The future of Eurostar is in doubt without a bailout, the UK government has been warned.
Passenger numbers on Eurostar have collapsed by 95 per cent since travel restrictions were first imposed last March and the company, which is running just two return trains a day, is in danger of running out of cash this summer.
A letter signed by 28 business leaders was sent to chancellor Rishi Sunak and transport secretary Grant Shapps over the weekend. The letter asked for “equal access to financial support as companies in similar positions — at the very least this should include business rates relief and access to government loans”.
Shareholders – including the French government – have already put €200 million into the beleaguered company since the start of the pandemic, but a spokesperson for Eurostar said, “without additional funding from government, there is a real risk to the survival of Eurostar, the green gateway to Europe, as the current situation is very serious. We are encouraged by the government-backed loans that have been awarded to airlines and would once again ask that this kind of support be extended to international high-speed rail.”
Christophe Fanichet, head of SNCF Voyageurs, said on Friday: “I’m very worried about Eurostar. The company is in a critical state.”
The UK government has yet to respond.