Eurostar ‘cannot be allowed to collapse’ says Irish MEP
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Despite the Government calling the fiasco a “French issue”, ministers continue to come up against clarion calls for financial help for the train service which connects the UK to mainland Europe. Express.co.uk readers have been vocal about their distaste for France’s pleas for help, and many have urged the Prime Minister not to buckle under the demands.
In comments, one person said “not one penny” from Britain should go to Eurostar while others hit out at the French.
One reader wrote: “Eurostar isn’t even a British company. The SNCF has plenty of money to bail out its company – it has enough to start building a new rail link to Spain.
“Make it pay for Eurostar first. No British bail out of a French company!”
And yet a third said any plan to pump money into the firm would be “extremely folly”.
The person said: “Given that the Eurotunnel requested bailout is the same as their intended investment in Spanish rail services it would be extreme folly to be suckered into putting a single pound into it, particularly as it is entirely foreign owned.”
Another said: “The French have bullied, threatened, lied and otherwise tried to diminish the UK and then want a hand-out. Foxtrot Oscar!”
Others turned their attention to the EU and questioned why the bloc could not step in to save the day.
Eurostar serves communities in France, Belgium and the Netherlands – all EU member states.
The reader suggested the group should come together to pool money into a common pot to ensure the survival of the train firm.
They said: “Why can’t European countries make up the monies needed?
“There are 27 of them and Eurostar is crying for £500m. That’s around £18.5 million each; a small change in a country’s finances.”
They added: “And then there’s the problem that France detests us anyway, so why help out the enemy hell-bent on destroying us?”
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The company warned it is in a “very critical” state after the coronavirus crisis caused passengers to plummet by 95 percent since last March.
Fifty-five percent of Eurostar is owned by SNCF, the state-owned French railway company.
Britain sold its share of the cross-Channel train operator in 2015.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has ruled out a bailout, calling the debacle a “French issue”.
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He said: “We’ll look to be helpful but we don’t own the company. We sold our shares. It’s a French issue. Eurostar has SNCF, the French state railway, behind it.”
Eurostar, which employs 3,000 people in the UK, has until June to repay £400m loans that it took out following the onset of the pandemic.
The UK Government has held talks with the group over a possible state-backed commercial loan worth £60million.
However, the discussions have yet to bear any fruit and no agreement has been announced.
The firm has been forced to drastically reduce its running capacity since last year, with just one daily service between London and Paris now in operation.
Before Covid hit it operated more than 50 services and two trains an hour during peak times each day.
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