Plans revealed by Eurostar today could see the cross-Channel train company, could merge with a rival operator on the Continent to create an integrated network spanning five countries.
Called the Green Speed project it would link the UK with the Mediterranean, the North Sea with the Atlantic and the Benelux countries with the peaks of the Alps and could boost the number of passengers across the combined network by two thirds over the next decade, from 18.5 million to 30 million.
Thalys and Eurostar operate already across five countries – France, United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany – with an approximate population of nearly 245 million. Together, they run 112 trains every day serving together more than 18.5 million passengers annually.
The Green Speed Project would aim to create a combined entity which would maximise the use of renewable energy for its fleet between now and 2030 further reducing its CO2 emissions in support of the EU’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
By accelerating the initiatives already in place, the combined entity would also aim to introduce an ambitious environmental policy in terms of waste management, removal of plastics, eco-driving of trains and sustainable purchasing.
Guillaume Pepy, Chairman of SNCF, said:
The challenge of climate change and the demand for eco-responsible travel calls for an ambitious response. Bringing together the strengths of Eurostar and Thalys would be a powerful response to this challenge. The creation of a combined European high speed rail company would deliver a compelling alternative to road and air travel for our 18.5 million passengers and would herald a new era in the development of European high speed rail services. High speed is an opportunity for Europe, Europe an opportunity for high speed!
Sophie Dutordoir, CEO of SNCB and Chairman of Thalys said :
“Thalys and Eurostar joining forces would come at the right time and could only be beneficial to all travellers. It would combine railway expertise with stable shareholders. The combination would be based on the strong conviction that, now more than ever, the train is the safest, most sustainable, fastest and most efficient solution for travelling inside Europe. Brussels would play a central role in this project as the hub for the various routes, linking all the cities that are served”.