EUROSTAR NEEDS GOVERNMENT SUPPORT Due to Covid cross border travel restrictions, Eurostar services have been limited for most of the year so far to one daily London-Paris return run and one daily London- Brussels – Amsterdam run. We are calling on the UK, French & Belgian governments to provide financial support for our key rail link with contintental Europe.
START OF ” THE EUROPEAN YEAR OF RAIL “ At the end of December the European Union(EU) formally launched this initiative as part of their “Green New Deal” project. There will be a series of events during the year promoting rail. We are also expecting various planned improvements to the rail network to be “speeded-up” during the year. Although the UK is no longer a member of the EU, we are hoping that they will formally support this initiative. Further information at https://europa.eu/year-of-rail/index_en Scientific evidence: rail is Covid-safe The UIC (International Union of Railways) in December published a state-of-the-art document with examples of scientific evidence, case studies and mathematical models that shows that clusters of Covid-19 are rare on public transport
“TOGETHER FOR EUROPE – NEW LINES FOR NIGHT TRAINS“ At a press conference on the 8th December the Swiss, German, Austrian & French state railways announced their plan to co-operate in the launch of 4 new night train services within the next 3 years. This will give rail users to/from the UK a greater choice of connections from Eurostar day services in Paris & Brussels onto night trains going onto Rome, Vienna, Barcelona for example. “EVERY LITTLE HELPS” or PROGRESS ON 7 CROSS BORDER RAIL LINKS Thanks to an agreement between the Grand-Est region in France and the Rheinland-Pfalz region in Germany 7 regular cross-border rail services will be running from December 2024. Every improvement in such links makes the
BRUSSELS AS A NIGHT TRAIN HUB Last month on the 22nd October our sister organization “Back-on Track Belgium” gave a presentation in a Webinar as part of the EU regions & Cities week. They explained how up to 6 Night train services could provide useful links connecting many parts of East, West, North and Southern Europe. This would also provide better rail travel opportunities for UK residents with one simple change to & from Eurostar at Brussels. NEW HOPE FOR SIMPLER TICKETING ? The International Union of Railways (UIC) has announced it will introduce a new Open Sales and Distribution Model (OSDM) platform supplied by Hit Rail to replace their existing Price and Fare Information Storage (PRIFIS) international tariffs distribution
TEE 2.0 (TRANS EUROPE EXPRESS) A plan was recently published by the German Government for “International high speed and overnight rail services to promote climate change mitigation. ” The plan proposes 8 long distance day services and 8 new overnight services across Europe”. Some services could be set up with the current infrastructure and others can be set up once planned improvements to the infrastructure are completed. The plan has also been supported by the European Commission. MORE BAD NEWS FROM EUROSTAR >> Due to the Covid situation they only running two return services a day from London to Paris and only one daily return service to Brussels. We then issued a press release outlining our concerns over the long-term
MORE NIGHT TRAINS PLANNED Both Austrian and Hungarian State Railways have recently ordered new rolling stock for Night trains. The Swedish Government is inviting train operators to run new services from Hamburg to Stockholm and Brussels to Malmo from 2022. Also , from 2022 two new services are planned from Paris to Nice and Paris to Tarbes. This will open up further travel opportunities for UK residents connecting with daytime Eurostar services via Paris & Brussels. Back-on-Track(Belgium) are actively campaigning for Brussels to become the new European Hub for up to 5 different night train services. HOW SAFE IS RAIL UNDER COVID 19 ? Recent research both by German Railways and the UK Rail Safety & Standards board suggest that
NIGHT TRAIN REVIVAL IN FRANCE In recent years before the Covid crisis there remained only 3 regular night train services for the whole of France. On 2nd August president Macron announced plans to expand the number of night train services across France from 2022. GOOD AND BAD NEWS FROM EUROSTAR THE GOOD : Eurostar are now running regular services from London to Paris, Brussels, Lille & Amsterdam. They have also made it more flexible if you want to exchange your ticket for a different service. THE BAD : Eurostar are not serving Ebbsfleet, Ashford, Calais Frethun or Marseilles until further notice. Nor do they plan to run their services to the French Ski resorts in 2021.
” TRANS EUROPE EXPRESS 2.0 ? “ On the 21st September the 27 Transport Ministers from EU member states will be holding a virtual conference to progress climate-friendly rail transport. This will cover International high-speed and overnight rail services. They will discuss the setting up of a one-stop booking platform for International passenger transport. “NIGHT TRAINS TO EUROPE VIA THE CHANNEL TUNNEL ? “ Since the Tunnel opened in 1994 passenger services have been restricted to the daytime Eurostar services. The UK Department of Transport has now said it stands ready to engage with any potential operator of new international(including Sleeper) services if a proposition is made. Can we now hope for Night Trains from London to Berlin or Milan
” ON THE WAY TOGETHER AGAIN” On the 8th June Swiss Railways resumed virtually a full service. Rather than frighten people away from rail they have issued simple easy to follow instructions. These re-assure passengers over their safety both in stations and on the train. Have a look at this link: https://www.sbb.ch/en/campaign/corona.html And they have even restored a limited catering service on Inter City trains ! A WELCOME BOOST FOR INTERNATIONAL RAIL 25 European Countries recently agreed to work together to make Rail “an attractive alternative” over distances from 300 to 800 kilometres. As 23 of these countries are EU member states this initiative will be part of the planned EU Green Deal. Although the UK is no longer an EU
BY TRAIN OR PLANE ? UBS – The Swiss Bank recently published research predicting that post Covid-19 more people are expected to switch travel from air to high-speed rail. They estimate that rail will be competitive for leisure journeys taking up to 6 hours and business travel up to 4 hours. STATE AID FOR TRANSPORT POST COVID-19 : We say that all state aid provided should be conditional on limiting competition between Rail and Air. We were pleased to here that the French Government recently announced conditions on State aid to Air France KLM. They will be restricted in the number of domestic flights they can schedule. This will be for journeys taking up to 2hrs.30 mins where there is a