Government warned not to let struggling Eurostar ‘fall between cracks’

The Eurostar terminal at St Pancras International Station, London.

Business leaders in London have urged the Government to offer financial assistance to struggling Eurostar.

In a letter sent to the the Treasury and Department for Transport on Sunday, campaign group London First warned not to let the cross-Channel rail operator “fall between the cracks of support”.

It went on to emphasise how important the firm would be in maintaining a healthy relationship with “our European neighbours” in the post-EU future.

This comes two months after Eurostar warned it is “fighting for its survival”, claiming to have been treated “unfairly” after the aviation sector was given extra assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Eurostar has slashed its timetables due to the collapse in demand for foreign travel.

The letter read: “If this viable business is allowed to fall between the cracks of support – neither an airline, nor a domestic railway – our (UK’s) recovery could be damaged.”

A very quiet Eurostar departures area in London St Pancras International

It continued: “Eurostar is not asking for special treatment.

“We urge you to ensure that they have equal access to financial support as companies in similar positions – at the very least this should include business rates relief and access to Government loans.

“Maintaining this international high-speed rail connection into the heart of London has never been more important.

“Having left the European Union, we need to actively set out our stall as an attractive destination for people to live, work and play.

“Safeguarding the future of this connection to the continent should be a symbol of both our desire to build back better and our new cooperative relationship with our European neighbours. ”

Among the 28 institutions that signed the letter were Fortnum and Mason, Middlesex University and property company Shaftesbury.

Eurostar described the current situation as “very serious”.

A statement read: “Without additional funding from government there is a real risk to the survival of Eurostar, the green gateway to Europe.”

Jim McMahon, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, called for “a comprehensive strategy” to be adopted.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We recognise the significant financial challenges facing Eurostar as a result of Covid-19 and the unprecedented circumstances currently faced by the international travel industry.

“The Government has been engaging extensively with Eurostar on a regular basis since the beginning of the outbreak.

“We will continue to work closely with them as we support the safe restart and recovery of international travel.”