An Eurostar train at Gare du Nord train station in Paris, France Getty Images
Since the pandemic began, travel between France and the U.K. has plummeted and Eurostar is in trouble. The question that is causing even more concern on both sides of the Channel is about who should bail it out.
Eurostar runs the rail services under the Channel Tunnel between London, Paris and Brussels. Reuters reported that the French state is ready to help, after a top French executive at Eurostar reported that the rail company was in serious trouble–passenger numbers have fallen by 95% since March 2020 and there is currently only one train per day running from Paris to London (when there used to be two every hour at peak). In 2019, the trains carried 11 million passengers between major EU capitals.
Christophe Fanichet, senior executive for SNCF, France’s state railway company and which is a majority shareholder of Eurostar is reported to have said that he “is very worried about Eurostar”, as reported by The Local. “The company is in a critical state, I’d even say very critical,” added Fanichet.
France, who owns a large stake in the company, has already provided €200m ($243 million) for the operator. The Telegraph reported that French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari spoke about he was in discussions with his UK counterpart Grant Shapps about a bailout.
The company is based in London and one of the problems in securing money was explained by Fanichet–the British government see it as French, and the French see it as being British.