British business leaders urge government to help struggling Eurostar

LONDON (Reuters): British business leaders called on the government to rescue Eurostar, reports said, after the firm said it was close to collapse following border closures to contain new Covid-19 strains.

Until recently a symbol of easy high-speed rail travel in Europe, Eurostar has been crippled by the coronavirus crisis, with its special platforms and facilities in Paris, London and Brussels now eerily quiet.

The group is currently running just one service a day between Paris and London, a far cry from before Covid-19 when it would operate two trains an hour during peak times.

The London First lobby group said Eurostar needed “swift action to safeguard its future”, in a letter sent to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and seen by Bloomberg News.

The missive, signed by 25 executives and academics, warned the Treasury and Department for Transport not to let the firm “fall between the cracks of support”.

Last week, Eurostar — majority owned by French firm SNCF — reported services were down 85 percent from the previous year.

“The company is in a critical state, I’d even say very critical,” said Christophe Fanichet who heads SNCF Voyageurs, the passenger unit of the network.

Travel restrictions continue to be tightened with France now requiring UK arrivals to observe a seven-day quarantine and undertake a Covid test at the end, while Britain has also introduced new quarantine measures.