Local Democracy ReporterCopyright: BBC
Eurostar must receive government “bounce back” support to protect 3,500 jobs in Kent, a railway official says.
HS1’s chief executive, Dyan Crowther, has been pressing the government for financial support for the international train operator which has been forced to shut down its services at Ebbsfleet and Ashford International until at least 2022 due to a huge drop in demand.
Ms Crowther, whose company works closely with the rail firm, said: “Eurostar has seen passenger numbers fall off a cliff almost overnight.”
High-Speed 1 Ltd is an “infrastructure manager” which operates and maintains Ashford, Dartford’s Ebbsfleet, Stratford and London St Pancras international stations and sells train slots to Eurostar.
HS1 would normally be expected to hold up to 17,000 slots a year for Eurostar, but the number is likely to drop sharply to around 2,500 over a 12-month period due to stringent quarantine rules.
Ms Crowther has called for a “tripartite” agreement to be reached by the Government, HS1 and Eurostar.
She said: “We need some real and sustainable solutions for the long term, not just something for the next six months.”
The Department for Transport has been approached for comment and Eurostar has declined to comment.
BBC NewsCopyright: Eurostar
Eurostar trains will not stop in Kent until 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company has announced.
They have not been stopping at Ashford or Ebbsfleet since March but the decision has now been taken to extend that for the next two years.
Passengers in Kent will have to start their journeys at St Pancras, in London.
Eurostar said bookings were down 90% compared to last year, and the industry was too unpredictable due to quarantine restrictions.
The rail company added that it would be reducing its timetable for next year, focusing only on its core routes and destinations where there was the highest demand.
By Zoe Kleinman
Technology reporter, BBC News
By Sean Coughlan
BBC News family and education correspondent
BBC London NewsCopyright: PA Media
Eurostar passengers will be required to cover their faces from today or risk being refused travel.
The rail company said the rule for travellers to wear face coverings is in line with guidelines from the French and Belgian governments.
Any type of face covering is allowed "as long as it effectively covers your nose and mouth", a statement said.
In its statement, Eurostar said fines may be imposed in France and Belgium for anyone without a face covering.
The company is operating a significantly reduced service, in line with increased border controls and a lower demand for travel triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Just four services are running each day between London and Paris, and London and Brussels, according to timetables published on the company's website.
By Tom Burridge
Transport correspondent, BBC News
By Ella Wills
BBC Live reporter
Eurostar trains to Paris are being badly disrupted by problems to its overhead power supply at one of its platforms in the Gare Du Nord.
The company's website said a cable had exploded and caught fire, meaning all power to platform six had to be shut down.
A statement also announced that trains would no longer be able to stop at Ashford and asked passengers not to travel today unless it was essential.
London to Brussels services have also been affected by this week's heatwave.
- Copyright: Tom Corban/REX/Shutterstock
Be thankful you don't need to get from Paris to London today (unless you do, then please tell us your story by emailing email@example.com).
Eurostar is today again telling passengers only to travel from Paris to London "if absolutely necessary".
Its services have been hit once more by long queues caused by industrial action by French customs officers.
The officers are working to rule, and only one of the usual six X-ray machines is being operated.
The company, which has apologised, says tickets can be changed free of charge, or affected passengers can claim refunds.