Possible headline: Eurostar Faces Competition as Rival Companies Express Interest in Channel Services, Calls for Resumption of Stopping Services at Ashford and Ebbsfleet

Possible headline:

Eurostar Faces Competition as Rival Companies Express Interest in Channel Services, Calls for Resumption of Stopping Services at Ashford and Ebbsfleet

Calls for Eurostar to Reconsider Suspension of Stopping Services at Ashford and Ebbsfleet

Eurostar, the high-speed train service between the UK and Europe, may soon face some competition as rival companies express interest in providing their own services across the Channel. According to a report by the Financial Times, Eurotunnel, the parent company of Eurostar, has offered a subsidy of £50m to help other operators run trains.

The subsidy would be paid once the rival consortiums have launched their services. This news comes as there are growing calls for Eurostar to resume stopping services at Ashford and Ebbsfleet, two stations in Kent that have been left without Eurostar services since the pandemic.

The Financial Times also reports that Yann Leriche, the chief executive of Getlink, has stated that at least five companies are “seriously” interested in starting new passenger trains between the UK and Europe. These include Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, a consortium backed by the largest shareholders in Mobico (formerly known as National Express), and a Dutch start-up called Heuro.

The tunnel has the capacity to run up to 1,000 trains daily, but currently only about 400 trains per day use it. This is below the initial forecasts when the tunnel opened 30 years ago. The introduction of new services could potentially help make the case for Eurostar to once again stop at Ashford and Ebbsfleet, which have been suspended indefinitely due to low passenger numbers and the impact of the pandemic.

The leader of Kent County Council (KCC), Cllr Roger Gough, has renewed his call for Eurostar to reconsider their decision to suspend stopping services at the two international stations. He believes that Eurostar needs to acknowledge the significant amount of taxpayers’ money that has been invested in these stations with the expectation that they would help boost the county’s economy, attract new businesses, and aid regeneration.

A recent survey conducted by the county council found that many small and medium-sized businesses in Kent believe the county is losing out as a result of Eurostar’s suspension of stopping services. Cllr Gough stated that “this is very important for Kent” and that “there has been a huge amount of public money that has gone into ensuring that there is that capability again.”

He also acknowledged that it may not be possible for Eurostar to resume stopping services in the short term due to their focus on implementing new entry and exit systems for travelers from outside the EU and preparations for the upcoming Olympics. However, he believes that there is a strong argument for redeploying these stations in the long term to help mitigate the potential delays caused by these new systems.

Cllr Gough also mentioned that KCC is in talks with other companies who have expressed interest in providing international services from these stations. One such company is the Spanish Consortium, Evolyn, which announced last year that they plan to buy 12 high-speed trains and run non-stop services from London to Paris.

In light of these developments, it is clear that there is a growing demand for high-speed services between the UK and Europe. It remains to be seen whether Eurostar will reconsider their decision to suspend stopping services at Ashford and Ebbsfleet or if new operators will step in to fill the gap.

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