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Coronavirus

Concerns Grow Over Eurostar Rail Service Linking UK, EU

January 19, 2021

PARIS — The head of France’s state rail company has sounded the alarm over the future of the Eurostar train service, which connects the U.K. with continental Europe and has been hurt badly by the halt to travel during the pandemic as well as Brexit.

Jean-Pierre Farandou, the CEO of SNCF, which owns 55% of Eurostar, told France Inter radio on Tuesday that “the situation is very critical for Eurostar.”

Passenger numbers on the cross-Channel train service – which reaches U.K., France, Belgium and Holland – have been down 95% since March and are currently believed to be less than 1% of pre-pandemic levels.

It comes days after U.K. business leaders called for a British government rescue of the Channel Tunnel rail operator as border closures designed to stop a contagious virus variant threatened to push the service toward the brink of collapse.

Farandou noted that “today, there is one round trip that runs between London and Paris, and one other that runs between London and Brussels-Amsterdam. And these trains are 10% full.”

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