Posted 6th April 2021 | 6 Comments

Eurostar uncertainty continues as cash crisis remains unresolved

THE uncertainty over the survival of Eurostar has continued over Easter, although international travel restrictions to at least some countries could be eased from 17 May. The RMT union has stepped up its campaign to get help for the international rail operator, pointing out that 3,000 jobs could be at risk.

It’s reported that the government in London is remaining cool about the prospect of Treasury support, with ministers apparently maintaining their earlier stance that any financial bailout should depend on the shareholders. It is also understood that Eurostar already owes £400 million to banks.

The Financial Times has quoted one UK official as saying: ‘The tunnel and the rolling stock are there. Someone would take them on, even if the company went to the wall. There’s no appetite for bailing them out at all.’

The French state railway SNCF has the largest stake, at 55 per cent, and its Belgian counterpart SNCB has 5 per cent. The remaining 40 per cent was owned by Britain until 2015, when it was sold to international finance houses.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘As the main Eurostar union RMT supports the calls today to save this vital environmentally sound link between the UK and our neighbours in Europe.

‘The UK and French governments must work with the private stakeholders to put together a financial package that provides the bridge to survival for this service which supports 3,000 UK jobs and keeps our economies and communities connected.’

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Kevin Davies, Netley

    The railways profits were welcomed by the French government when it made money. Now that it makes a loss, they should meet their obligations to bail it out.
    The British taxpayer should not be asked to contribute money when our own infrastructure needs urgent investment.

  • J Hutton, Oxford

    Perhaps the UK government should be a bit entrepreneurial and put money in to gain a share of the company. If it goes bust, money will have to be wasted on accountants and lawyers.

  • Stephen Dearden, New Mills

    For once the government was right in selling the shareholding. It is now a foreign company and the losses will fall on the financial investors. There should be little difficulty in the liquidation of the company and its assets and franchise purchased by another operator. That's how markets work!

  • Steve, Dorset

    We wouldn't need to bail out foreign companies if we hadn't sold our share as we do with everything these days. Price of everything, value of nothing.

  • John B, London

    Britain should not be bailing out foreign-owned companies. The approach is quite right, let it go to the wall.

    Now we see the folly of building a tunnel to France instead of to our own citizens in NI or even the Isle of Wight.

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    Do we want anyone to come to the UK from France as their Covid levels rise steeply ? And does anyone want to go there either ? Doesn't seem to have a future till Covid is under control in Europe. Would the best way to let it go bust - or some sort of hibernation - and pick the pieces up later ? Otherwise we'll be throwing good money away - and its not our responsibility. I know its not good for Eurotunnel shareholders either, - of which I still am one.

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