Eurotunnel forced to create a second link between France and the United Kingdom | UK | New
This week, Eurostar confirmed that it has secured a financial backing package that will pave the way for its takeover. The £ 250million refinancing program largely includes additional equity and loans from a syndicate of banks guaranteed by shareholders, including French public rail group SNCF, Patina Rail LLP, Belgian rail operator SNCB and funds managed by the Federated Hermès infrastructure team. This support will allow Eurostar to continue to operate and meet its short and medium term financial obligations.
The number of passengers on the cross-Channel train service – which reaches the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands – has dropped to just 1% of pre-pandemic levels, sparking fears for the future of the carrier.
Eurostar appealed to the UK government for financial support in January after the pandemic left the company “fighting for its survival”.
It was not so long ago that cross-channel traffic was so high, Britain and France considered creating new routes.
According to a BBC report, when owner Eurotunnel won the contract to build its submarine connection, the French company was forced to draw up plans for a second Channel Tunnel by the year 2000.
Although these plans were published the same year, the tunnel did not take place because the cost was too high.
Former EuroTunnel Executive Chairman Patrick Ponsolle said at the time: “Eurotunnel would only embark on such a business if it improved the long-term profitability of the business and was in the interest of its shareholders”.
In 2017, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, then Foreign Minister under Theresa May, revisited the idea, suggesting building a 35km level crossing between the UK and France after the Brexit.
Mr Johnson believed the bridge would have given a boost to the UK tourism industry.
He wrote on Twitter: “Our economic success depends on good infrastructure and good connections.
“Should the Channel Tunnel be just a first step?”
Then, at a UK-France summit at Sandhurst Military Academy, Mr Johnson said: “We need a new fixed link between the UK and France.
“It’s crazy that two of the world’s largest economies are linked by a single railway line when they are only 20 miles apart.”
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Mr. Macron would have liked the idea and he would have replied: “I agree.
“Let’s do it.”
Eurotunnel bosses immediately called for a meeting with British officials over a second passage between the UK and Europe.
In a letter to former Prime Minister Theresa May, the French director general of Eurotunnel said he was “very interested” in a second fixed link and would have been “delighted” to start discussions.
The note from Eurotunnel CEO Jacques Gounon said: “The idea of a second fixed link is something that we regularly consider in our long-term plans and we would be delighted to engage with your managers to further explore this. possibility.”
A source from the company told The Telegraph that demand is increasing and a second connection would have been needed.
They also confirmed that the letter was sent just after Mr Johnson’s remarks about building a bridge.
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The company said it was “fully committed” to “providing the best possible solutions for industry and consumers in the post-Brexit relationship”, adding that “the exploratory work may be worth it now”.
The letter added: “The recognition of such potential is a strong indicator of confidence in the future of the economy.”
Despite the enthusiasm, Ms May’s official spokesperson has repeatedly declined to support the idea.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also seemed lukewarm on the concept of the bridge.
He told Europe 1 radio: “All ideas deserve to be considered, even the most outlandish.
“We have big European infrastructure projects which are complicated to finance. Let’s finish things that are already underway before we think of new ones.”