Pension giant Equitix joined calls for a bailout of the struggling Eurostar train line on Sunday morning, warning failure to prop it up could put investors off Britain.
Eurostar has been left fighting for survival over the past year amid an ever-changing set of travel policies and widespread coronavirus lockdowns. Earlier this month, the company warned it is in a “very critical” state and on track for financial ruin.
Currently it is running just one train in each direction between London and Paris. It operated more than 50 daily services before pre-pandemic, and two trains an hour during peak times.
Earlier in January, Commons Transport Select Committee chairman and Tory MP Huw Merriman urged the UK and French governments to make a joint commitment to support Eurostar.
He said “we simply cannot afford to lose Eurostar” as it is “unique in offering an environmentally friendly, direct connection to mainland Europe.”
The comments came after business leaders in London wrote to the government calling on it to not let Eurostar “fall between the cracks of support,” citing the extra assistance given to the aviation sector during the pandemic.
Joining these calls, Equitix chief operating officer Siôn Jones told The Sunday Times: “Supporting Eurostar is an issue for both the UK and French governments. HS1 is the UK’s green gateway to Europe and Eurostar’s services contribute significantly to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.”
He stressed its importance in a year where the UK is hosting the UN climate change conference.
The fund manager jointly owns High Speed 1 — the rail connection between London and the Channel tunnel. It bought it for more than £3bn in 2017.
In 2015, Britain sold its stake in the operator to France for £750m. The French government has pumped €200m (£178m) into Eurostar to keep it afloat during the crisis.
Eurostar was snubbed by the Treasury in November when it had announced subsidies to major airports of up to £8m each.
Watch: Alarm raised over the future of Eurostar