Spanish national railway operator Renfe has reportedly expressed its intention to run a high-speed train service between Paris and London, a route where the Eurostar currently has a monopoly.
The operator will bid for available slots in the Channel Tunnel.
Confirming a report in Spanish daily El Pais, Renfe told Agence France-Presse: “Renfe wants to operate on the Paris-London high-speed line through the Eurotunnel, and has already started initial contacts to compete with Eurostar.
“At the moment there are available paths and capacity to operate on the high-speed line.”
The railway operator added that it has already studied the market, which confirmed that the move would be ‘profitable’.
Renfe’s new high-speed train service will operate in direct competition with Eurostar, which is majority owned by France’s SNCF.
The rail service operated by Eurostar links Paris and London in two hours and 15 minutes through the Channel Tunnel, which opened in 1994.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, this rail link served nearly nine million passengers annually.
Eurostar train traffic plunged sharply from 2020 due to financial trouble caused by the pandemic, but Renfe said that it ‘was growing until Covid-19, a trend expected to recover next year’.
The company plans to provide services with its own trains, launching operations with a minimum of seven.
This initiative is expected to help the company enter the French market.
Under the second phase of the project, the service is expected to get extended to new French and international destinations.
Renfe had previously announced plans to operate a high-speed train service between Lyon and Marseille, but the company abandoned the project due to ‘numerous obstacles’.
On the other hand, SNCF is already running its low-cost Ouigo line connecting Madrid and Barcelona (northeast) in Spain, which was launched in May.
SNCF invested $696.12m (€600m) in the project.
In March, Alstom won a contract from Renfe for the supply of 152 high-capacity trains.
The total value of the contract was over $1.65bn (€1.4bn).