28th Jul 2023 19:16
(Alliance News) - A group of companies, including British transport group Mobico Group PLC, formerly National Express, plans to launch a high-speed train service to rival Eurostar using the Channel Tunnel, AFP learned on Friday.
"There has been discussions in a group of industry parties," a source close to the matter told AFP, confirming information first reported by the Financial Times.
The new service between Paris and London could start in 2025 under the name Evolyn, with Spain's Cosmen family – a Mobico shareholder – involved in talks to order trains from French manufacturer Alstom, according to the newspaper.
Since the 1994 launch of the line, several companies have announced intentions to compete with Eurostar, a 55% subsidiary of French national railway operator SNCF.
They include the German company Deutsche Bahn a decade ago, but none have materialised.
Buffeted by Brexit and Covid, Eurostar almost went bankrupt in 2021 and recently pointed to a "bottleneck" caused by Brexit-related controls at the border.
But the Getlink group, which operates the tunnel under the Channel, "has always had the ambition to have more high-speed traffic through the tunnel", whether incumbents or new entrants, a spokesperson told AFP.
The tunnel has the potential to at least double its current passenger traffic, the spokesperson added.
"We have a certain number of interested parties talking to us on a regular basis," they noted.
Renfe, the Spanish national rail operator, had indicated in 2021 its aim to launch a high-speed train between Paris and London.
And Getlink said last year it planned to buy high-speed trains to lease to rail companies interested in competing with Eurostar.
The high-speed line between Paris and London allows connections between the capitals in two hours and 15 minutes through the Channel Tunnel.
Mobico declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
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