Wednesday 3 February 2021 11:54 am

Eurostar is ‘not our company to rescue’, says Grant Shapps

The transport secretary has poured cold water on hopes that the UK would lead the rescue of the struggling Eurostar rail link.

Speaking to MPs on the Transport Select Committee this morning, Grant Shapps said that the cross-channel service was “not our company to rescue”.

Pointing to the fact that the French government owned the majority stake in Eurostar, he added: “It’s primarily a French lead, but we’ll be as helpful as possible.

“It’s not our company to rescue – it’s majority owned by the French state.

“We’re very, very keen for the Eurostar to survive, and we’ll wait to see the plan [from state rail firm SNCF]”, he added.

The government sold its stake in the rail service back in 2015.

He added that he was in regular contact with his counterpart in the French government, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, over the issue.

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Passenger numbers on the Eurostar have plummeted 95 per cent since March as coronavirus restrictions have battered international travel.

The service is currently running just one service a day to both Paris and Amsterdam due to ongoing border controls.

In recent weeks a collection of businesses, MPs, and other bodies have called on the government to help protect the rail link.

About a third of the revenues of the High Speed 1 route between London and the Channel Tunnel derive from the Eurostar, which runs on the same route.

Shapps added that ministers were particularly concerned about protecting the 3,000 UK jobs dependent on the link.

He added that he was confident that a solution to the problem would be found.