ALLRAIL blasts Eurostar’s reasoning for strategy change
The Alliance of Passenger Rail New Entrants in Europe (ALLRAIL) has highlighted Eurostar’s recent change in strategy as one of the reasons why policymakers need to act swiftly to ensure competition through the Channel Tunnel.
Eurostar recently announced changes to its service offering, and in a letter explaining its reasoning to the UK parliament’s Transport Select Committee it said it cannot respond to high demand. Eurostar added that it has to focus on “on those core routes which make the maximum contribution per train and to charge higher prices to our customers”
ALLRAIL rips into this explanation, which it says does not add up. “It’s odd to claim that “Eurostar needed to find an additional £500 million in commercial debt in order to survive” in 2020-21 when its majority owner, SNCF, was engaging in a €600 million discretionary spend on a brand new high speed operator, Ouigo Spain, at exactly the same time.” As a result, ALLRAIL asks whether SNCF could not have “have rescued Eurostar without it needing to take on the commercial debt that is now causing all the high fares?”
The alliance also questions the Eurostar argument that it is plagued by border checks following Brexit. It argues that if there had been a competitor, stakeholders would have had more incentives to find a solution for the border situation. It adds that if there had been competition, the result would like have been more passengers and, thus, more passport gates.
“What kind of rail market are we living in where a dominant operator is admitting in a public letter that, in the future, that it “will have to focus on driving high-yield from a limited customer and service base”, ALLRAIL laments, calling on the UK government, EU Commission and EU regulators, among other regulators, to finally take steps to open up the market.
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