Fares, rail policy and DfT news

22.02.19

Queues of 15,000 and Eurostar chaos at St Pancras in no-deal Brexit

Eurostar queues of up to 15,000 passengers could mount up at London’s St Pancras International station in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to a DfT analysis.

The Financial Times revealed that a government report fears chaos at one of London’s busiest rail stations if France decides to carry out more rigorous passport checks on UK nationals in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

A government insider told the FT that a 40%-60% reduction in Eurostar services would be the “only conceivable response,” with the report forming part of the government’s wider no-deal contingency plans.

Currently, UK nationals are able to use electronic passport checks when entering France. However, if in the event of a no-deal Brexit the EU ruled that UK nationals could no longer use electronic passport gates and France did not increase staff for passport checks, manned border checks lasting 21 seconds per person would create queues of up to 2,000 passengers – breaching the station’s resilience arrangements.

If checks in France were to last 75 seconds per person, queues at St Pancras could reach up to 15,000 people.

A DfT spokesperson told the FT: “The government continues to work towards a [Brexit] deal and we are confident that we will have agreements in place to ensure cross-channel rail services continue after Brexit.

“We are working closely with industry to develop sensible contingency plans which ensure that the Eurostar and domestic rail services continue running.”

The report comes to light as former transport secretary Lord Adonis warned that, following Honda’s decision to close its Swindon factory, the rail industry could be set to follow suit.

Writing for the pro-EU paper The New European, Adonis outlined how he persuaded Hitachi to locate its Hitachi Rail Europe HQ in London, but that now, similarly to Nissan, they are now “scaling back” their UK operations.

 

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