Labour highlights pandemic plight of Eurostar

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon has urged more support for Eurostar as a union highlighted the impact the pandemic has had on the high speed Channel tunnel passenger service.

The Labour MP visited Eurostar’s St Pancras terminus in London and Ashford station in Kent where he met members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association.

He said: ”The pandemic hit Eurostar extremely hard, as with many businesses, and staff who have worked so hard during this difficult period want to return to normality as soon as it’s safe to do so.

“It’s vital the government now presses ahead to ensure we can reach agreement with the EU and other vital routes on an international vaccine passport scheme.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “I’m pleased that Labour is highlighting the plight of our green rail link and calling on government for greater support.

“Support, along with clearer guidance on international travel, is desperately needed to safeguard this vital international rail link and the thousands of jobs that depend on it.”

Eurostar is the UK’s first and only high speed rail line (until HS2 is operational) and it revolutionised travel between the UK and continental Europe. In 2019,

Eurostar carried more than 11 million passengers in 2019 before Covid hit and provided more than 80% of journeys between London and each of Paris and Brussels.

But services have dropped to as few as one a day.

The company secured a £250 million refinancing deal with its shareholders and banks in May.

Eurostar said at the time it had suffered a more severe decline in demand than any other European train operator or competitor airline during the pandemic.

It said the agreement would enable it to “continue to operate this vital link and meet its financial obligations in the short to mid-term”.

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