International train operator Eurostar has warned that its survival is at risk without further financial support from the Government.
It follows new restrictions on travellers coming to the UK and a pledge from ministers of support to the airline industry.
From Monday morning (18 January) all passengers coming to England by air, rail or sea will have to provide proof of a negative COVID test and will also have to self-isolate, following the closure of the Government’s so-called air corridors.
Eurostar, which runs trains from London to France, Belgium and the Netherlands, said in a statement: ‘We are encouraged by the government backed loans that have been awarded to airlines and would once again ask that this kind of support be extended to international high-speed rail which has been severely impacted by the pandemic.
‘Without additional funding from government there is a real risk to the survival of Eurostar, the green gateway to Europe, as the current situation is very serious.’
The company was supported by a letter to the chancellor and transport secretary from London business leaders under the auspices of the London First group, pointing out that while it is a viable business it was not receiving the support that both airlines or a domestic railways were.
London First warned that if it is ‘allowed to fall between the cracks of support…our recovery could be damaged [and] London and the UK would lose out both economically and reputationally’.
The letter added: ‘Eurostar is not asking for special treatment. We urge you to ensure that they have equal access to financial support as companies in similar positions – at the very least this should include business rates relief and access to Government loans.’
The Department for Transport did not make any immediate offer of support. A spokesperson said: ‘We recognise the significant financial challenges facing Eurostar as a result of COVID-19 and the unprecedented circumstances currently faced by the international travel industry.
‘The Government has been engaging extensively with Eurostar on a regular basis since the beginning of the outbreak. We will continue to work closely with them as we support the safe restart and recovery of international travel.’
At the weekend, aviation minister Robert Courts announced that The Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme will open this month, which he said ‘will help airports reduce their costs and we will be aiming to provide grants before the end of this financial year’.