Posted 12th October 2023 | 3 Comments

National Express-backed consortium prepares to compete with Eurostar

A Channel Tunnel consortium which includes the British National Express Group is purchasing 12 trains from Alstom, with the intention of competing with Eurostar. The consortium is investing £1 billion, and has an option to ‘scale up’ its fleet to 16.

Eurostar has been providing services between London, Paris and Brussels since 1994, and has recently merged with continental operator Thalys. It also now runs beyond Brussels to Rotterdam and Amsterdam but, as an open access operator, it does not have exclusive rights to run international passenger trains through the Channel Tunnel.

It has never had a railway competitor, although Deutsche Bahn ran a demonstration ICE train to St Pancras International 13 years ago this month, as an overture to launching services between German cities and London. However, these never appeared.

Spanish national operator Renfe has also considered running between London and Paris, again without result.

The consortium, known as Evolyn, is backed by the Spanish Cosmen family. The Cosmens have a holding in National Express, which is now Mobico, although it has kept its original brand for its British long-distance coach services.

Evolyn chief executive Jorge Cosmen said: ‘The acquisition of 12 high-speed, state-of-the-art trains, to be expanded to a minimum of 16 according to our forecasts, is the definitive step in the materialisation of Evolyn, a high-speed rail operator that has been under development for three years and that today marks a very important milestone.

‘We know that the governments of the United Kingdom and France welcome a project that will allow their citizens to increase the connection options between the UK and several countries in continental Europe with a green alternative that will also contribute to decarbonisation.’

Reader Comments:

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  • Hugo Rogers, Newbury

    If they are spanish whats wrong with providing direct services to Spanish Swiss, Italian German cities, the whole of europe would be your customer no brainer get on and do it. But be sure to compete with airlines.

  • David Redgewell , Cheltenham

    Welcome National Express plans for a railway service from London to Paris

  • Greg T, London

    Given the post-Brexit utter deliberate, tory screw-up(s) with travelling by train, making it almost as unpleasant as flying ... why bother?