Will Eurostar Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic?

London business leaders have written to the British government calling for financial support for struggling cross-Channel train operator Eurostar, the operator of the direct train service from London to Disneyland Paris.

Eurostar reported in November that passenger numbers had dropped 95% since March 2020. 

A spokesman for Eurostar described the current situation as “very serious”.  He said: “Without additional funding from government there is a real risk to the survival of Eurostar –  the green gateway to Europe.”

Abandoned Eurostar train located in Valenciennes, France.

The train company which formerly ran two trains an hour from London to Europe now operates just two services a day from London to Paris and Brussels.

Eurostar chief executive Jacques Damas wrote in November that there was a “risk that this iconic service will be left to fail, threatening jobs, connectivity and reversing the progress to reduce travel emissions.”

He said that €200 million had been already secured from its shareholders, but he called for more help from the British government.

Eurostar is 55% owned by French rail operator SNCF, and 40% by Patina Rail LLP, a consortium made up of Canadian-based Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec (CDPQ) owning 30% and the infrastructure investments fund Hermes Infrastructure owning 10% of the company and Belgian railway SNCB owning 5%.

Eurostar has transported more than 190 million passengers between Britain and mainland Europe since its launched in 1994 and  currently employs 1,200 people in the United Kingdom.

The British government sold its stake in Eurostar for £757.1 milion in 2015.