Spanish rail company to bid for Paris to London route

AFP - [email protected]
Spanish rail company to bid for Paris to London route
This photo taken on October 20, 2015 in Coquelles shows the new Velaro E 320 Eurotunnel train being tested before its expected service starting November 2015, during the inauguration of a new Eurotunnel freight line, created to increase cross-English Channel trading of goods while maintaining security against increased illegal migrant activities. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo by Philippe HUGUEN / AFP)

Spanish railway company Renfe wants to begin a high-speed train service between Paris and London, taking advantage of the slots still available in the tunnel under the English Channel, the company said on Tuesday.


"Renfe wants to operate on the Paris-London high-speed line through the Eurotunnel, and has already started initial contacts to compete with Eurostar," the company behind the service 55 percent owned by France's SNCF, the Spanish company told AFP, confirming a report in Spanish daily El Pais.

"At the moment there are available paths and capacity to operate on the High Speed line," Renfe added, specifying that it had already carried out a market study showing that it would be "profitable."

The high-speed line between Paris and London, operated by Eurostar, connects the two capitals in two hours and 15 minutes through the tunnel opened in 1994. Before the pandemic, it was used by nine million passengers annually.

Eurostar train traffic fell sharply from 2020 due to the health crisis, but "it was growing until Covid-19, a trend expected to recover next year," Renfe stressed.


The Spanish company expects to operate its service with its own trains, starting with a minimum of seven, and believes taking a share of the London-Paris line will help it enter the French market.

"In a second phase, the service could be extended to new French and international destinations," the company said.

Renfe announced in July 2019 its desire to launch into French routes, freshly opened to competition, with a high-speed train service between Marseille and Lyon.

However, it ended up denouncing "numerous obstacles" to its aspirations.

In contrast, SNCF is already operating in the Spanish market with its low-cost Ouigo line linking Madrid and Barcelona (northeast) inaugurated in May in which it invested €600 million.


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