Fast trains from the Netherlands will likely go under as Eurostar faces bankruptcy

The future is looking bleak for the rail company Eurostar. Without government support, the effects of the coronavirus crisis could leave the company bankrupt by spring, meaning the new prized fast trains to London will be no more. “A catastrophe is possible,” says Jacques Damas, CEO of Eurostar. 

Several factors have played into the recent sharp decline in rail passengers: the more contagious variant of coronavirus, the negative test requirements imposed on passengers, and increasing border controls due to Brexit, reports AD. The number of travellers has now fallen by an incredible 95%.

Eurostar is a private company, so they don’t receive aid from the government, leaving them in “very critical condition,” according to Cristophe Fanichet, CEO of French rail company SNCF (co-manager of Eurostar). Without government assistance, by April, the train company will no longer be able to meet its payment obligations.

But the company’s appeal for government aid doesn’t look promising. “This is a French company in England, so the British are not helping, and the French are not helping because it is in England,” Fanichett told reporters.

So long, fast trains

It was just this past fall that the direct train from Amsterdam to London was introduced, and with great enthusiasm. Because Great Britain is not part of the Schengen zone, new ticket and ID-check terminals had to be built in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. This latest addition has meant that people can travel directly to five other countries: The UK, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and France.

But now facing bankruptcy, this high-speed international travel is on the line. Daily trips have been already been drastically reduced, and last year, the timetable for the train from Amsterdam to London was temporarily shut down completely. Many travellers have yet to redeem vouchers for cancelled trips.

Do you think Eurostar should receive government assistance to prevent bankruptcy? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Feature Image: hpgruesen/Pixabay

Brin Andrewshttp://brinandrews.com
Brin is an avid ice cream eater from the US, calling Amsterdam home since early 2019. As a lover of mountains, life below sea level has been a bit of an adjustment, but she manages to stay afloat with long runs, wine, and frequent travel. Incidentally, these are a few of her favourite topics to write about.

30 COMMENTS

  1. In this era of climate change ,carbon footprint and global warming, its beholden on all the governments to maintain Eurostar and reduce emissions from too many aircraft travelling between all their cities. Would be a retrograde step to curtail service, and huge loss of faith
    and prestige as so much has been expended in bringing the Channel Tunnel into fruition. This must not come to pass, our children/grandchildren won’t forgive us .

    • Completely agree with every word. The EU is running its current programme on the basis of its Green Deal. There has to be a way that if national governments are hesitating and quite frankly, irrespective of any negativity regarding the UK leaving the EU, the EU should see services like Eurostar as beacons of positivity and get fully behind them in these dark times. They have a very significant recovery fund. What Eurostar needs will not put a dent in the €750billion that has been set aside.

    • What happened to the French looking after the French? Obviously Micron doesn’t care about his companies or transport infrastructure. The UK should not be liable to help as it’s a foreign owned company and after Microns threats, behaviour and attitude during Brexit negotiations he should face the full brunt of the failure of this company.

  2. Yes, I definitely believe Eurostar should receive government assistance to prevent bankruptcy, I mean both French and British governments.

  3. Trains are a much greener option and it’s without doubt the responsibility of both governments to find a solution to maintain this service. It would be enormously shortsighted to abandon this much welcomed train journey connecting mainland Europe with the increasingly isolated island of UK.

    • Isolated? The UK is now connected to the entire planet unlike it’s previous scenario where it was tied to a select group of countries (France, Germany in charge calling the shots whilst the rest told they have influence!), headquartered in Brussels. The UK will only prosper going forward beyond the pandemic whilst the EU will diminish with it’s inward looking, controlling policies. The second largest EU budget contributor has left, leaving a gaping hole in EU finances. Pay up Netherlands, your membership fee to the club you can join but they won’t let you leave has increased substantially 🙂

  4. Yes its imperative the governments support Eurostar who are leaders in reducing carbon footprint. It’s a stress free and comfortable way to travel into Europe. The airlines have been supported through this pandemic and their drive for being ‘green’ is way behind

  5. They should absolutely receive government assistance. The continued travel will benefit the nation’s economy.

  6. Absolute rubbish! It is private company. You take the rough with the smooth. I’m sure that they don’t share our the profits to the Government when things are going well.
    The solution, stop charging such exorbitant fees for tickets or, nationalise.

    • Absolutely the British government as well as the French should help to keep the train services opened. Why lock us in the British Isles, when the rest of Europe is free to move about. We havn’t left Europe, 50% voted to leave the EU but we still are in Europe that’s not going to change. We still need to have the option to travel the continent without sailing or flying if we so wish. Its great to have a train service where we can travel to Europe. Many people still love travelling to the continent of Europa. Not everybody voted for brexit and wants to live a secluded life on the British Isles. There are still many europhiles who love Europe and the idea of going travelling to Europe so why should everything change because of brexit and the pandemic. Hopefully we can make a change to keep the trains running.

  7. Eurostar should be supported – planes & ferries are more polluting but don’t (currently) pay for that. But, as the UK is just one part of Eurostar’s network, perhaps it should relocate to France & tap EU support?

  8. There is no U.K. government involvement in this company. It is owned by the. French, Belgians and a small prt owned by private venture capitalist investors. The U.K. government should not use our U.K. taxes to bale it out. It’s a nice venture but responsibility for its survival does not lie with the U.K. our Government sold its 40% share a few years ago. If it folds then too bad. Another company will likely emerge from the ashes at a later time when and if normal travel continues.

  9. I imagine the UK is looking to nationalise it for a pittance after it collapses, that’s the smart choice, it should never of been private

  10. With climate change and responsibility from all country’s to reduce the carbon footprint I believe it is essential that the British, Belgian Dutch and French Governments should help Eurostar. As a frequent traveller in to Belgium I cannot see myself travelling by Air.The Eurostar was always busy and creating revenue and jobs.
    I find it upsetting that I may not be able to travel by Eurostar if help is not given.
    I find it depressing thinking that I may be stuck here in the UK.

  11. With family in Germany and France and no longer inclined to fly I very much hope that rail travel to Europe will continue.

  12. Eurostar is operated by Eurostar International Limited (EIL), which is owned by the national railway of France SNCF (55%), investment firms which comprise two Canadian pension funds (40%), and the National Railway Company of Belgium (5%).

    To expected the UK tax payer to bailout Eurostar when the majority share holder is the French government and foreign owned investors is quite frankly ridiculous.

    This is before you consider how the French have behaved in the Brexit negotiations and continue to behave even after a deal has been agreed.

    Eurostar going bankrupt will not be the end of the service it is disingenuous to suggest this.

    All the infrastructure will still be in place. The railways lines, trains and the tunnel itself will all still exist as will the staff to operate them.

    All that will happen is the shareholders will loose their investment and the service will be taken over by a new operator unencumbered with debt.

    This won’t be the end of the service, just the end of the service run by the current operator. Unless of course the current investors wish to put money in to protect their investment.

  13. As our airlines and our train franchises (from a British point of view are to an extent foreign owned and invested in ) are being being helped then assisting Eurostar in current Covid crisis on the face of it is a ‘no brainer’.

    From UK it as a great green, pleasant and essential way to access Europe as well as providing high speed links between Netherlands. Belgium, France.

    However due to Brexit I have reservations that such immediate help will be forthcoming, I hope I ‘m wrong.

    I have a feeling/fear that Eurostar may be allowed to fail and be sold off cheaply to venture capitalists, again I hope I’m wrong.
    Maybe a form of future Eu franchise is an answer.

  14. Whatever the rights and wrongs of bailing out a private company, it would be a disaster for greener travel if Eurostar were allowed to fail. The aviation industry has been offered support, yet it pays no fuel tax and pollutes our lives in so many ways.as someone who doesn’t fly, the Eurostar is my gateway to other lands. It is unconscionable that such a bold Anglo-French enterprise should hit the buffers.

  15. Thus far the only airlines that have had significant bailouts in the UK are BA and Easy Jet . Yes they are owned by a range of international investors but prominently they are UK based carriers.

    There is a clear interest in them receiving tax payer support due to their scale and the importance to the economy.

    The UK rail franchises have also been bailed out to the tune of £10 billion but many are effectively government owned at this stage anyway.

    I can tell you from a UK perspective there is no appetite to bailout Eurostar being mainly owned by the French government. They were happy to buy the UK out of the operation and take £100 million a year in profits. If they wish to protect their investment the current owners will need to provide the funding to keep it going it’s as simple as that.

    If they do not wish to do this it can go bust and will be run by another operator in due course. There are lots of good rail operators in Europe.

    I am sure there is a Dutch, German or British company which will happily buy the assets out of receivership on the cheap if it goes bust and it will run profitably again when this Covid mess is behind us.

    It’s not like this will be the end of the service it’s ridiculous to suggest this will happen. The most likely outcome is it will go bust and the French will buy it out of receivership taking complete control.

    The only other option would be losing their investment and control of the line something they are very unlikely to do.

  16. France is the biggest financial investor, so the French government is going to loose the most money.
    State aid rules? We can’t be seen to give unfair advantage can we?

  17. As long as the management team resigns without any golden parachute then they can receive money. The reason is simple. They decided to spent a huge amount of money during the brexit negotiation without taking into account the risk and open up the route in the middle of a global pandemic. So they aren’t really the brightest of stars to manage a company really.

  18. The EU should chip in. Consider it help money to the developing country the UK had become post-brexit due to a shrinking minority of its voters.

  19. What happened to the French looking after the French? Obviously Micron doesn’t care about his companies or transport infrastructure. The UK should not be liable to help as it’s a foreign owned company and after Microns threats, behaviour and attitude during Brexit negotiations he should face the full brunt of the failure of this company.

  20. Hi Rein K, living in Holland we are sure about the company has to be helpt in favor of KLM, even if you only think of environmental problems and one has only to sit down to think about the rest of them.

  21. I agree – Eurostar is a private, profit making company, why should the UK Government help bail out a company in which they have no stake whatsoever?
    As for it’s “green” credentials, where do people think the electricity to power Eurostar comes from? It’s from fossil fuel burning power stations, which are not exactly “green”.
    I didn’t vote for Brexit, and I enjoy travelling, but not at any price for no return!

  22. Eurostar should be helped out by both the British and French Government. It’s a wonderful train to travel on. More eco friendly to travel on. I love travelling to Paris on it to visit my cousin.

  23. Nobody forced the UK to sell its stake did they?

    To try and suggest that a large chunk of the benefit of eurostar continuing to exist doesn’t accrue to the UK is a completely ridiculous supposition.

  24. Eurostar is part owned by the French government. No other government holds a stake. If any taxpayers are to bail out Eurostar, it should only be French taxpayers. But, being also privately owned, shareholders ought to be the first to support the company.

    Expecting taxpayers in other countries to bail out the company merely because they are served by Eurostar, is akin to expecting the British government to support Air France or KLM merely because these airlines uses British airports.

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