UPDATE 18 JANUARY 2021
News outlets are reporting today that Eurostar is facing ‘an existential threat’. Eurostar was ‘not asking for special treatment’, but access to the same help as companies in similar positions (e.g. airlines) have received, such as business rates relief and loans.
“Without additional funding from government, there is a real risk to the survival of Eurostar…the current situation is very serious.”
Regular visitors to Ski Flight Free will be familiar with the campaign to ‘Save The Ski Train’ and bring back the direct London St Pancras to Bourg St Maurice Eurostar service that normally runs each winter.
Save The Cross-Channel Train
In a blow to lovers of train travel, Eurostar confirmed earlier this year that this would not operate during winter 2020/21. The ‘Save The Ski Train’ mobilised many of you and our petition has attracted over 11,000 signatures.
While we have engaged with Eurostar and they have suggested that the service might run again in the future, the concern now is that Eurostar soon might not operate at all.
Passenger numbers are down 95% since March and during the recent lockdown were running at less than 1% of pre-Covid levels.
Aviation & Domestic Rail bailed out, but not Eurostar
Jacques Damas, Eurostar’s CEO, has written to Rishi Sunak asking for equivalent assistance to the bailouts being given to UK airports of up to £8 million.
“Rates relief for airports puts Eurostar at a direct disadvantage against its airline competitors. Eurostar has been left fighting for its survival, whilst aviation has received over £1.8bn in support through loans, tax deferrals and financing.”
“As a non-franchised train operator in the UK, Eurostar has not been eligible for the government support schemes for domestic rail or airlines.”
Bill Cash at the RMT rail union spoke in favour of support:
“It is wholly wrong that Eurostar, an eco-friendly service that is a beacon for the future of our railways, is being denied the kind of financial support being offered to the airports.”
Train travel uses up to 90% less carbon per passenger
Damas also noted the environmental benefits of travelling by train:
“A Eurostar journey uses up to 90% less carbon per passenger than the equivalent short-haul flight, removing the equivalent CO2 of 60,000 flights in 2019, and HS1 is about to become the first line in the country to run entirely on renewable energy.”
Support ‘the green gateway to Europe’
At Ski Flight Free we are fully supportive of Eurostar’s case and believe that support for airlines over trains is in direct contradiction with the government’s stated claim of reach zero emissions by 2050.
Eurostar represents ‘the green gateway to Europe’ and it should receive similar support.
Contact Rishi Sunak
You can also help by sharing this blog post.
Travel on Eurostar is very easy, even in the ‘new normal’: