Eurostar has reportedly asked the British government for emergency financial aid, The Guardian reports Thursday.
The rail operator, which operates high-speed links between Brussels and London in particular, admitted to “fighting for survival,” according to The Guardian.
The coronavirus crisis has largely paralysed rail traffic. Currently, barely one Eurostar train a day connects Brussels to London and Paris to London. Since March, the number of passengers has collapsed by 95%.
At present, occupancy is even less than 1% of what it was before the pandemic, according to The Guardian. Travel restrictions are still in place between the UK and the continent.
According to the paper, Eurostar boss Jacques Damas has written to UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak asking for financial support. The British government intervened to support the airports, which are also in great difficulty, and Eurostar would like to benefit from similar support.
“The new fares that airlines have to pay represent a direct competitive disadvantage for Eurostar,” a spokesman for the railway company pleaded in the Guardian columns.
Eurostar is mainly in the hands of the French railway society (SNCF), which holds 55% of the capital, but the Belgian rail operator is also a shareholder, up to 5%.
In May 2015, the British government sold its 40% stake to a consortium of two companies: the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Hermes Infrastructure.
The Brussels Times