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London businesses call for action to safeguard future of Eurostar

Our CEO, Brian Bickell, has joined other London business leaders, including London First in calling on the Government to ensure that the future of the green gateway to Europe, Eurostar, is safeguarded. A full copy of the letter is below:

Dear Chancellor and Secretary of State,

We are writing to you, as London’s business leaders, concerned about the prospects of Eurostar, and are calling for swift action to safeguard its future. You will, no doubt, have seen reports in the media that on a pre-lockdown trajectory, Eurostar will run out of funds to run services into St Pancras in the coming months. Since then, we have seen a mutation of the virus that has required the Government to introduce a national lockdown. The spread of the virus makes this additional action necessary – but the response must not just be restrictive, it must also be supportive. With international passenger numbers likely to remain low into the spring, our green gateway to Europe is in peril.

If this viable business is allowed to fall between the cracks of support – neither an airline, nor a domestic railway – our recovery could be damaged. London and the UK would lose out both economically and reputationally. Eurostar currently employs 1,200 people in the UK, with a further 1,500 jobs directly provided by the Eurostar supply chain. But the value and impact of this link extends much further. Students from France account for 1 in every 9 of those from the EU currently studying in London, many of whom benefit from the option to travel via rail rather than air. Taking the train not only has important environmental benefits, which should not be underestimated as the UK seeks to lead the world at COP26, but it is how nearly 4 in every 5 passengers choose to make their journeys between London and Paris/Brussels.

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. Maintaining this international high-speed rail connection into the heart of London has never been more important. Having left the European Union, we need to actively set out our stall as an attractive destination for people to live, work and play. Safeguarding the future of this connection to the continent should be a symbol of both our desire to build back better and our new cooperative relationship with our European neighbours. 2

Yours sincerely,

Tom Athron, Chief Executive, Fortnum and Mason

Nic Beech, Vice Chancellor, Middlesex University

Brian Bickell, Chief Executive, Shaftesbury

Evelyn Bourke, former Chief Executive BUPA

Vincent Clancy, Chief Executive Officer, Turner & Townsend

Michael Conway, Chairman, FM Conway

Dyan Crowther, Chief Executive Officer, HS1

Professor Sir Paul Curran, President, City, University of London

Nic Durston, Chief Executive Officer, South Bank Employers’ Group

Richard Foley, Senior Partner, Pinsent Masons

Ros Goode, Principal, Managing Director – London, Avison Young

Paul Goswell, Managing Director, Delancey

Chris Ireland, UK CEO, JLL

Darren James, Chief Executive Officer, Keltbray

Gerald Kaye, Chief Executive, Helical

Gerald Malton, Executive Chairman, Fairview New Homes Ltd

Ros Morgan, Chief Executive, Heart of London Business Alliance

Geeta Nanda OBE, CEO, Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing

Mark Naysmith, CEO UK MEIA, WSP

Michael Payton QC, Chairman, Clyde & Co LLP

Jeremy Rees, Chief Executive Officer, ExCel

Mark Reynolds, Group Chief Executive, Mace

Basil Scarsella, Chief Executive, UK Power Networks

Inderneel Singh, Managing Director, Edwardian Hotels London

Paul Stephen, Principal and Chief Executive, Newham College London

Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive, London First

William Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, Siemens Mobility Ltd

Colin Wood, CEO Europe, AECOM