Business leaders in London have advised the Government to offer financial assistance to open-access operator Eurostar in a letter, delivered yesterday (17 Jan), to the Treasury and Department for Transport.
The group, London First, encouraged that the rail operator should not “fall between the cracks of support.”
The letter comes two months after Eurostar warned it is “fighting for its survival”, claiming to have been treated “unfairly” after the aviation sector was provided with extra assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Currently, Eurostar employs 1,200 people in the UK with a further 1,500 jobs directly provided by the Eurostar supply chain but the value and impact of this link extends much further.
The letter further details: “Students from France account for 1 in every 9 of those from the EU currently studying in London, many of whom benefit from the option to travel via rail rather than air.
“Taking the train not only has important environmental benefits, which should not be underestimated as the UK seeks to lead the world at COP26, but it is now nearly 4 in every 5 passengers choose to make their journeys between London and Paris/Brussels.”
The letter continued: “Eurostar is not asking for special treatment. We urge you to ensure that they have equal access to financial support as companies in similar positions, at the very least this should include business rates relief and access to Government loans.
“Maintaining this international high-speed rail connection into the heart of London has never been more important. Having left the European Union, we need to actively set out our stall as an attractive destination for people to live, work and play.”