Rail union chiefs bid to galvanise backing for Eurostar

Three rail union general secretaries will address a public meeting next week to galvanise support for the future of Eurostar and save the UK’s only high speed rail link to Europe.

Concerns about the future of Eurostar will be highlighted on at the session via Zoom on the evening of August 4.

Unions claim the situation at Eurostar is uncertain with the government reluctant to support the service and 70% staff based in the UK.

Eurostar reached a £250 million refinancing agreement with its shareholders and banks in May.

The embattled rail operator said the agreement comprises £50 million in additional shareholder equity, £150 million in shareholder-guaranteed loans from a syndicate of banks and £50 million from restructured existing loan facilities.

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”.

However, shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon urged more support for Eurostar as the TSSA highlighted the impact the pandemic has had on the Channel tunnel passenger service.

Rail union general secretaries, Manuel Cortes of TSSA, Mick Lynch of RMT and Mick Whelan of Aslef, will join Sonja Van Wingerden, a Eurostar staff rep and environmental campaigner, and Jenny Bates, transport specialist at Friends of the Earth.

Trade union members, rail industry workers, climate activists and those with an interest in the Eurostar service have been invited.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “I strongly encourage anyone with an interest in rail services, climate change and travel to join this public meeting.”

He claimed government “indifference” to the fortunes of Eurostar has greatly amplified the effects of Covid on the company.

“As one of the greenest forms of international travel this is an absolute scandal,” Cortes added.

“I’m delighted to be part of a wide platform of expert speakers at this event, all unite in our conviction that support is needed to safeguard this vital international rail link and the thousands of jobs that depend on it.”

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