Eurostar on Tuesday confirmed it has secured financial aid that will pave the way for its recovery. The railway company has negotiated a new £250-million (290m euros) refinancing package that paves the way for the train service’s recovery.
The refinancing package of £250m primarily consists of additional equity and loans from a syndicate of banks guaranteed by the shareholders: SNCF, the French state railway group and Eurostar’s majority shareholder, Patina Rail LLP, a vehicle backed by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (“CDPQ”) and funds managed by the Infrastructure team of Federated Hermes, and SNCB, the Belgian state train operator
“Everyone at Eurostar is encouraged by this strong show of support from our shareholders and banks which will allow us to continue to provide this important service for passengers. The refinancing agreement is the key factor enabling us to increase our services as the situation with the pandemic starts to improve,” said Jacques Damas, Chief Executive of Eurostar.
Over the last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, this cross-Channel train service connecting the UK with the continent, has experienced a more severe decline in demand than any other European train operator or competitor airline, causing passenger numbers to collapse by 95 per cent since last March.
Eurostar commented, “With this package of support, Eurostar will be able to continue to operate this vital link and meet its financial obligations in the short to mid-term.”
Restoring the demand for travel on the service’s core routes between London and Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam will be the company’s immediate focus. Eurostar plans to increase the number of trains on its London-Paris route to two daily return services from the 27th May, and three per day from the end of June. As travel restrictions are eased, the aim of the company is to gradually increasing the frequency over the summer period.
This refinancing package safeguards the future of Eurostar as restrictions ease and travel begins to steadily resume. The refinancing gives Eurostar the opportunity to recover and successfully complete its merger with Thalys, as part of the Green Speed project.