On 27 September, the management of SNCF, SNCB and Patina Rail LLP (a consortium comprising Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Hermes Infrastructure) presented the Green Speed project to their Boards which proposes combining Eurostar, the cross-Channel high speed rail operator, and Thalys, the Franco-Belgian high speed rail operator, to create the foundations of a sustainable European high-speed rail travel company.
When this project has been precisely defined, it will remain subject to the approval of the Boards and consultation with the representative bodies of employees as well as clearance of the European Commission regarding merger control.
From their earliest days, Eurostar and Thalys have shared the same purpose and vision – to directly connect European cities across borders whilst respecting the environment. Over the last 25 years, this has been achieved by revolutionising high-speed rail travel and giving rise to a new generation of environmentally-responsible travellers by providing fast and easy direct links between city centres across destinations in Europe.
Thalys and Eurostar operate already across five countries – France, United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany – with an approximative population of nearly 245 million. Together, they run 112 trains every day serving together more than 18,5 million passengers annualy.
The challenge of climate change and Europe’s growing demand for eco-responsible and sustainable travel presents a great opportunity for both companies in terms of development.
The combined excellence and unique expertise of Eurostar’s and Thalys’ colleagues would provide a powerful platform for the future growth of European high-speed rail and a solution to this growing demand.
Going forward, passengers would experience a comfortable, sustainable and European high speed travel experience. By combining Thalys and Eurostar, the Green Speed project would link the UK with Mediterranean, the North Sea with the Atlantic and the Benelux countries with the peaks of the Alps.
This new service would be an additional reason to choose the train over road or air travel in Europe.
Combining resources – in particular fleets as well as information and distribution systems – would increase economic efficiency and provide the customer with an enhanced, sustainable commercial service, delivering on the ambition to increase the number of direct links between European cities in the future.
All of the colleagues who have made Thalys and Eurostar the success they are today have unique experience of European travellers and their diversity. Tomorrow they will build the Green Speed Project drawing on their collective high-speed rail skills.