The Eurostar railway between the UK and mainland Europe is seeking financial aid from the UK Government due to financial trouble caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ridership of the rail service is down to less than 1% of pre-pandemic levels, reported The Associated Press.
In a statement to The AP, the railway said: “Without additional funding from government, there is a real risk to the survival of Eurostar, the green gateway to Europe.”
In addition, Eurostar’s ridership has dropped by 95% in comparison to March 2020.
SNCF CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou was quoted by France Inter Radio as saying: “There is one round trip that runs between London and Paris, and one other that runs between London and Brussels-Amsterdam. And these trains are 10% full.”
French state rail SNCF owns 55% of Eurostar.
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Eurostar has requested for access to the same secured loans as airlines.
It has also asked for a short-term reduction in the track access charges, which it pays for using the UK’s high-speed rail line.
Last week, SNCF senior executive Christophe Fanichet told Agence France-Presse that one of the problems in obtaining bail-out funding for Eurostar is that it is ‘seen as French by the British Government and as British by the French’.
Eurostar CEO Jacques Damas said that the company is hoping for the four countries it serves to coordinate and keep the service running.
By crossing the English Channel, Eurostar connects the UK with France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.