Eurostar cancel trains between London and Paris

Eurostar has begun suspending services between London and Paris due to a nationwide strike on French railways.

So far today, four services have been canceled because of strikes scheduled for Tuesday amid a dispute over pay.

Service disruptions are expected throughout the day on other services provided by the Channel Tunnel train operator.

Despite the strike, SNCF, France’s state-owned operator and owner of a majority stake in Eurostar, is managing to operate some of its high-speed TGV services as usual. Belgium-based Thalys, which has merged with Eurostar, is unaffected by only mild disruptions to services from France to Germany and Spain.

Eurostar is canceling local time trains 1331 and 1901, which were scheduled to leave London for Paris, and trains 1113 and 1613, which were scheduled to leave Paris for London, Reuters reported.

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The cancellations will be a new headache for Gwendoline Cazenave, who took over as CEO of Eurostar on October 1.

Last month, Eurostar admitted it faces an uncertain future as the cost-of-living crisis sparks a drop in bookings and stokes specters of the company being forced back into emergency talks with investors.

The operator warned in its financial statements that a recession or “high rates of inflation that reduce the disposable income of potential customers” could leave Eurostar in financial difficulties.

“Severe demand dampening” could cause the company to fail on its promises to its lenders about maintaining a minimum level of cash reserves, it added.

Despite rising demand for international travel, Eurostar said in August it was suspending direct trains to Disneyland Paris and wanted to focus on “core routes”, although the connection – which took less than three hours between London and the theme park – was popular among many British families .

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Relations between Eurostar and French officials remain chilly. In July, the Telegraph announced that French border officials had scuppered plans to expand the service.

Eurostar had been pushing to increase services, in part to meet obligations contained in leases for Eurostar’s fleet of Velaro trains, which were built by Siemens at a cost of €600m (£510m).

Failure to meet the increased frequency could result in financial problems in meeting rent payments throughout the period, city sources warned at the time.

Meanwhile, Eurostar passengers reacted angrily when the train operator closed its customer service phone lines over the summer, forcing people to use an online system instead. Telephone lines were shut down in August and September as the operator was inundated with customer questions and complaints.

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Britain sold its stake in Eurostar in 2015 for £750million under David Cameron. It is majority-owned by French state operator SNCF, pension funds including Canada’s Caisse de dépôt et Placement du Québec, and Hermes Infrastructure, a major investor in UK local government pension funds.

Shareholders poured €200m (£178m) into the company in 2020. After being spurned by the UK government, shareholders and lenders agreed on a £250m emergency restructuring of the company to secure its financial future in spring 2021.

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