Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Incredible new £43m plan to double train numbers from UK to Europe’s best cities

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Hopping on the Eurostar from London is a great way to travel to Europe, particularly if you don’t enjoy flying.

In around two hours the traveller can go from the heart of London to the centre of Paris or Brussels. In just under four hours they can even be in Amsterdam.

And now if all goes to plan, passengers may soon be able to access even more European capitals on more trains.

Discussions are under way to boost train services and offer more travel destinations via the Channel Tunnel – a move that will delight train fans.

The operator of the Channel Tunnel, Getlink, has offered £43 million (€50m) to encourage more companies to launch new cross-Channel rail services to rival Eurostar.

Formerly called Groupe Eurotunnel, the French company is responsible for managing and operating the infrastructure of the Channel Tunnel as well as LeShuttle passenger and freight trains.

The company says services could be more than doubled, providing an opportunity for other rail companies to expand their businesses.

Yann Leriche, the chief executive, told the Financial Times: “We have a lot of room, including at peak time.

“I think there is potential to have more high speed trains and freight trains.”

He claimed there was room to increase the current number trains that use the tunnel on any given day from 400 to 1,000.

At least five companies have expressed an interest in bidding for slots on the line.

These include Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, a Dutch start-up Heuro, and Evolyn – a Spanish-led project backed by the billionaire Cosmen family.

New destinations as far away as Germany and Switzerland are also reportedly in the pipeline.

Previously rail operators have avoided bidding for slots on the Channel Tunnel lines due to the high cost of complying with very strict safety regulations.

However, many of the obstacles have been cleared, with associated costs tumbling due to Alstom’s new TGV trains being certified to run through the tunnel.

Passenger numbers on the Eurostar are currently back up to levels last seen before the Covid pandemic.

Some 18.6 million passengers travelled on Eurostar in 2023, up 22 percent on the previous year

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