French rail firm SNCF, SNCB and Patina Rail have proposed the merger of Eurostar and Thalys under a project dubbed Green Speed.

The combination proposal was presented to the boards of their shareholders and is expected to cater to sustainable travel demand in Europe.

Eurostar is the cross-Channel high-speed rail operator that provides direct services on London-Paris and London-Brussels routes. It links the UK to France, Belgium and The Netherlands through the Channel Tunnel.

Thalys is the Franco-Belgian high-speed rail operator launched in the early nineties and developed to the scale of its four countries, namely Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany.

Eurostar provides direct links to 14 destinations and Thalys to 26 locations. Together they operate 112 trains on a daily basis and serve more than 18.5 million passengers a year.

Green Speed project aims to provide high-speed rail travel as a better alternative to air and road. It aims to increase the capacity of passengers per year on the combined Eurostar and Thalys networks to 30 million by 2030.

SNCB CEO and Thalys chairman Sophie Dutordoir said: “Thalys and Eurostar joining forces would come at the right time and could only be beneficial to all travellers. It would combine railway expertise with stable shareholders.

“The combination would be based on the strong conviction that, now more than ever, the train is the safest, most sustainable, fastest and most efficient solution for travelling inside Europe. Brussels would play a central role in this project as the hub for the various routes, linking all the cities that are served.”

The project also seeks to increase renewable energy usage and reduce CO2 emissions, simplify international travel with one single ticket, joint loyalty programmes and enhance service quality for customers.

The proposed combination would require clearance from the boards, the European Commission and consultation with the employees’ representative bodies.