Eurostar ‘cannot be allowed to collapse’ says Irish MEP
The Government has insisted the French state and other private shareholders should step in to save Eurostar from collapse. Eurostar is at risk of going under after seeing revenue plummet and passenger nu8mbers crash 95 percent during the pandemic, with travel often banned between the UK and France over the past year. But a UK official told the Financial Times: “The tunnel and the ruling stock are there.
“Someone would take them on, even if the company went to the wall.
“There’s no appetite for bailing them out at all.”
France has a majority stake of 55 percent in Eurostar firm via state-owned railway SNCF and Belgium five percent, while the UK sold its own stake in the cross-Channel transport firm to help pay off Government debts.
Eurostar has loans totalling £400 million due by the end of June, and the company has urged the Government to offer it some rescue funds.
Eurostar news: Britons are furious at the French over a plea for the UK to bail out the rail firm
Eurostar news: The rail giant is at risk of going under
But France has rejected a similar plea, insisting it is up to Britain to save the firm as its headquarters are located in London.
A senior official in France said Emmanuel Macron’s Government also expect shareholders and creditors to make another effort before any state aid is made available.
But Britons are furious at the suggestion from the French that the UK should bail out Eurostar.
Reacting to our initial story, one Express.co.uk reader said: “It may be needed but, it isn’t the responsibility of British taxpayers to bail out a (majority) French state business.
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Eurostar news: Passenger numbers have plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic
“We are not part of the EU nor are we liable for French indebted businesses.
“Our Government is correct. If this railway company is so important to the French then, let the French support it.
“If a UK company wishes to buy it or support it, that’s fine but, not our taxes thank you.”
A second person wrote: “The French are on another planet!
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Eurostar news: France has insisted it is up to Britain to save the firm
Eurostar news: Boris Johnson wants France to bail out the rail giant
“They spend literally all their time attacking and belittling the UK and expects the UK to fund a French company’s expansion plans into Spain.”
Another Express.co.uk reader commented: The behaviour of Macron as the main instigator of the hatred towards the UK is hardly likely to persuade this country’s taxpayers to support Eurostar.
“On your bike Macron!”
A fourth person added: “Let it sink! “It’ll be another French failure to add to Macron’s list.
Eurostar and the UK have discussed a possible £60million state-backed loan to help Eurostar survive through the coronavirus pandemic.
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But no high-level political talks between France and Britain have so far taken place to discuss saving the firm.
The firm’s shareholders, including Canadian pension fund Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec and Hermes Infrastructure, have so far injected more than £170 million during the pandemic.
Last month, SNCF warned Eurostar would need new funds in “weeks not months” to survive the looming cash crunch.
SNCF chief executive Jean-Pierre Farandou said: “We are getting closer to the moment when Eurostar have real cash flow problems… by next month, we have to conclude these discussions.
“We hope that it will be weeks because the financial situation is going to be very difficult at the end of May, start of June.
“Eurostar is even more important after Brexit. It’s worth the cost of fighting for Eurostar. Eurostar is strategic, it’s geopolitical.”
A source close to Eurostar also said recently: “Eurostar has been providing a bare minimum service until now, it is already at breaking point.
“If funding doesn’t come in place and further measures restrict travel, we could be feeling the pinch of bankruptcy later on this year.”