Spanish state rail operator Renfe says creating a Channel tunnel service to compete with Eurostar is ‘viable and profitable’. The Paris-London route currently has available slots.
Spain’s state rail company, Renfe, announced initial plans to compete with Eurostar by operating a high-speed Channel tunnel line. Renfe said studies show the Eurotunnel route, which opened in 1994, could be profitable and workable over the coming years.
“At the moment, there are available slots and capacity to operate on the high-speed line,” it said in a statement on Wednesday. “This high-speed corridor has high traffic and was growing until Covid-19 – a trend that should recover next year. According to demand analysis, it would be viable and profitable for Renfe to compete with Eurostar.”
Paris-London route is popular
Renfe has plans to shuttle travellers between Paris and London with its own product. It noted that 9 million travellers used Eurotunnel’s Paris-London route in 2019. 7 million of those took the Eurostar passenger train, which connects the two cities in just over two hours.
“Renfe’s aim is to operate its own product, meaning the first step would be the standardisation of trains,” the statement said. “The business plan is built around the use of at least seven trains, and estimates suggest a return on the investment after four years.”
Renfe said a second phase could include a service to new French and international destinations. A new Paris-London route would boost its international reputation.
The rail company said it had already received support from Getlink – the European company that operates the Channel tunnel – and from HS1, which owns, runs and maintains the 109km rail line between the Channel tunnel and St Pancras International in London.
There is no timeframe from Renfe for the new service. It would not be the first time the company has tried to expand its international activities; previous attempts have hit the buffers.
Renfe’s French counterpart SNCF holds a 55% stake in Eurostar International Limited. It is operating in the Spanish market with its low-cost Ouigo line linking Madrid and Barcelona.
SNCF inaugurated the new low-cost line in May at a cost of €600million.
In September, the French company announced plans to expand its network within Spain in 2022. Read more about the planned routes, here.