A Spanish rail company is gearing up to take on Eurostar, announcing a bid to run its own London-Paris train service through the Channel Tunnel.
Renfe, the Spanish state rail operator, said it is looking at launching a competing service as it believes the route could be “profitable”.
“At the moment, there are available slots and capacity to operate on the high-speed line,” the company said in a statement.
“This high-speed corridor has high traffic and was growing until Covid-19 – a trend that is set to recover next year. According to demand analysis, it would be viable and profitable for Renfe to compete with Eurostar.”
It continued: “Renfe’s aim is to operate its own product, meaning the first step would be the standardisation of trains.
“The business plan is built around the use of at least seven trains, and estimates suggest a return on the investment after four years.”
Further plans could include services running between London and other French cities, as well as international destinations.
No timeframe has been given as yet – with Renfe merely saying that it has started making “initial contacts” – but both Getlink, the company that operates the Channel tunnel, and HS1, which owns and runs the line between the Channel tunnel and London St Pancras, have reportedly been receptive to the plans.
The businesses are “well positioned in France and very interested in the project’s development”, according to Renfe.
The Chunnel Eurostar link connects London and Paris in just two hours and 16 minutes.
Some seven million passenger travelled between the two capitals on the Eurostar in 2019.