Exciting plans to merge Europe’s two high-speed operators, Eurostar and Thalys, were released at the weekend.
The proposal is for the owners of French National Railways (SNCF) and Belgian National Railways, which between them own a majority stake in both Eurostar and Thalys.
The working name for the new reform is the ‘Green Speed Project’.
The new plans could see a drastic expansion in destinations for trains on the Eurostar service, which currently operates direct services to destinations across France, as well as Brussels and Amsterdam.
What is ‘Green Speed’?
The Green Speed project has five objectives:
- to provide an attractive alternative to air and increase traffic to 30m passengers a year by 2030
- to maximise the use of renewable energy for the combined train fleet and introduce an ambitious environmental policy regarding eco-driving of trains, waste management, removal of plastics, and sustainable purchasing
- to provide seamless travel for passengers with one ticket covering any journey across the network and better connections between trains
- to introduce attractive travel offers and a single passenger loyalty programme, and
- to provide a high standard of service quality.
Seamless services with one single ticket
The planned merger would also enable ‘seamless’ services with one single ticket between the countries and cities on the Thalys and Eurostar networks, increasing for options for skiers to Ski Flight Free in the Alps.
Guillaume Pepy, Chairman of SNCF, said:
“The challenge of climate change and the demand for eco-responsible travel calls for an ambitious response. Bringing together the strengths of Eurostar and Thalys would be a powerful response to this challenge.
“The creation of a combined European high-speed rail company would deliver a compelling alternative to road and air travel for our 18.5m passengers and would herald a new era in the development of European high speed rail services.”
The Green Speed plan will now be put to the boards of the three owners of Eurostar and Thalys to seek their approval.
The merger will require approval from the European Commission.