THE uncertainty over the survival of Eurostar has continued over Easter, although international travel restrictions to at least some countries could be eased from 17 May. The RMT union has stepped up its campaign to get help for the international rail operator, pointing out that 3,000 jobs could be at risk.
It’s reported that the government in London is remaining cool about the prospect of Treasury support, with ministers apparently maintaining their earlier stance that any financial bailout should depend on the shareholders. It is also understood that Eurostar already owes £400 million to banks.
The Financial Times has quoted one UK official as saying: ‘The tunnel and the rolling stock are there. Someone would take them on, even if the company went to the wall. There’s no appetite for bailing them out at all.’
The French state railway SNCF has the largest stake, at 55 per cent, and its Belgian counterpart SNCB has 5 per cent. The remaining 40 per cent was owned by Britain until 2015, when it was sold to international finance houses.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘As the main Eurostar union RMT supports the calls today to save this vital environmentally sound link between the UK and our neighbours in Europe.
‘The UK and French governments must work with the private stakeholders to put together a financial package that provides the bridge to survival for this service which supports 3,000 UK jobs and keeps our economies and communities connected.’