Eurostar to connect UK to four European countries by high-speed train following Thalys merger

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Eurostar is about to develop its European routes by merging with Belgian operator Thalys, for a extra complete high-speed rail community that may join the UK with Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium in addition to extra of France.

Though plans for a merger have been first introduced in October 2019, they have been held up by the stoop in rail journey in the course of the pandemic.

Now the European Fee has authorised the merger, confirming the information on Tuesday.

Often called the “Inexperienced Velocity Mission”, it’s backed by the French state-owned railway firm SNCF and the Nationwide Railway Firm of Belgium, each of which personal stakes in each Eurostar and Thalys.

It’s a part of the EU’s wider plans to extend its high-speed prepare journey community, selling rail journey as an environmentally pleasant different to flying.

Sophie Dutordoir, CEO of Belgian rail firm SNCB and chairman of the board for Thalys, informed Euronews: “This merger challenge relies on the agency perception that trains are probably the most sustainable, quick, environment friendly and most secure method to journey in Europe – now greater than ever.”

The merger means the Eurostar service will likely be prolonged additional into Belgium and the Netherlands, in addition to connecting the UK to Germany with high-speed trains.

Eurostar at the moment runs high-speed providers from London to Paris, Brussels, Lille, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, by the Channel Tunnel.

However within the coming years, passengers can anticipate high-speed hyperlinks from London to Cologne, Germany – in round five-and-a-half hours – in addition to present Thalys locations Düsseldorf, Essen, Aachen and Dortmund.

Direct trains to Bordeaux, Antwerp and Liège might additionally turn into a actuality.

In a 2019 assertion, Eurostar CEO Mike Cooper stated: “As chances are you’ll remember, the shareholders of Eurostar have at present introduced their ambition to convey collectively Eurostar and Thalys, the French-Belgian excessive velocity rail operator, to create one unified European excessive velocity rail firm.

“That is an thrilling improvement for our clients as it is going to allow us to give you a extra in depth community, elevated connectivity and frequency of service and a fleet working on renewable power.

“By becoming a member of forces with Thalys we can develop our attain and on the identical time present a strong response to the more and more severe local weather change problem and the rising demand for sustainable journey.”

It follows long-term, formidable designs by Germany’s Inexperienced Celebration for a complete community of night time trains that may join the UK with locations together with Barcelona, Paris, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

The proposed community would see some 40 sleeper providers working throughout the continent, with routes extending so far as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Birmingham in addition to London. It’s a part of a wider pattern of creating new sleeper prepare providers to enhance low-carbon transcontinental journey.

In the meantime, the Dutch-Belgium run European Sleeper has plans to begin up throughout 2022, departing Brussels within the night and zipping by Antwerp, Amsterdam, Berlin and Dresden earlier than arriving in Prague.

Tickets have been initially set to go on sale in April, with fares but to be introduced, however a press release on the corporate’s web site says the launch date and ticket gross sales are nonetheless to be confirmed.

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