Eurostar travel: France blocks efforts to increase services despite holiday nightmare | World | New
Border officials in Paris are clashing with the rail company over a proposal to increase the number of trains running between London and the French capital each day. Eurostar would like to increase the number of services between the two cities to 17 per day, according to the Daily Telegraph. City sources were quoted as saying the desire to make the move was partly to honor commitments contained in lease contracts for Eurostar’s Velaro train fleet
Insiders have warned that not hitting that frequency could trigger financial problems with meeting lease payments in the fullness of time.
But they made it clear there was no suggestion of an immediate threat to the business.
Border and security officials at the Gare du Nord terminal in Paris are said to be warning that they can only cope with a maximum of 13 trains a day.
It would be a blow to Eurostar, shattering hopes of reaping the full benefits of a surge in international travel demand over the coming weeks.
Any additional Eurostar service could also significantly ease the huge pressure on ferries and airlines following a series of flight cancellations and traffic chaos leading to the Port of Dover.
During the Covid pandemic, Eurostar operated around 25 services a day, including to Brussels and Amsterdam.
French border police and security screening staff are said to say they are hammered by a massive shortage of staff and so would be able to support additional services.
One said: “It is not in anyone’s interest to upset the apple basket. Getting the post-pandemic demand surge under control requires goodwill and collaboration from all sides. »
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“We have had constructive discussions with the authorities on how we can work together to continue to increase our services.
“At Gare du Nord, the French border police have pledged to increase their resources, customs have added staff and opened up more lanes, and in the autumn there will be an increase in the number of British border posts. , which will help to further streamline the ongoing control.”
Almost two years ago, Eurostar faced an uncertain future when the UK government refused to bail out the company.
French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari has insisted Britain should help save the Eurostar – a proposal rejected by Downing Street.
France’s comments came even though a stake held by British taxpayers was sold for £750million by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015.
Last May Eurostar secured a £200m bailout held by British taxpayers and also merged with Franco-Belgian operator Thalys this year.