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Eurotunnel’s letter to the Prime Minister supported the plan to build a new post-Brexit bridge between the UK and France | UK | New UK News

Today Eurostar has confirmed that it has secured a financial support program that will pave the way for its takeover. The £ 250million refinancing program consists largely of additional equity and loans from a syndicate of banks guaranteed by shareholders, including French public rail group SNCF, Patina Rail LLP, the rail operator Belgian SNCB and funds managed by the infrastructure team of Federated Hermès. This support will allow Eurostar to continue to operate and meet its short and medium term financial obligations.

The number of passengers on the cross-Channel train service – which reaches the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands – has fallen to just 1% of pre-pandemic levels, sparking fears for the future of the carrier.

Eurostar appealed to the UK government for financial support in January after the pandemic left the company “fighting for its survival”.

It wasn’t that long ago that cross-channel traffic was so high that Britain was considering making new links.

In 2017, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, then Foreign Secretary under Theresa May, suggested building a 22-mile road crossing between the UK and France after Brexit.

Mr Johnson believed the bridge would have given a boost to the UK tourism industry.

He wrote on Twitter: “Our economic success depends on good infrastructure and good connections.

“Should the Channel Tunnel be just a first step?”

He then pitched the idea at a UK-France summit at Sandhurst Military Academy.

Mr Johnson said: “We need a new fixed link between the UK and France.

“It’s crazy that two of the biggest economies in the world are connected by a single railway line when they are only 20 miles apart.”

Mr. Macron would have liked the idea and he would have replied: “I agree.

“Let’s do it.”

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Mr Johnson’s plan has also received a major boost after Eurotunnel bosses called for a meeting with UK officials over a second UK-Europe crossing.

In a letter to former Prime Minister Theresa May, the French director general of Eurotunnel said he was “very interested” in a second fixed link and would have been “delighted” to start discussions.

The note from Eurotunnel CEO Jacques Gounon said: “The idea of ​​a second fixed link is something that we regularly consider in our long-term plans and we would be delighted to engage with your managers to further explore this. possibility.”

A source from the company told The Telegraph that demand is increasing and a second connection would have been needed.

They also confirmed that the letter was sent just after Mr Johnson’s remarks about building a bridge.

The company said it was “fully committed” to “providing the best possible solutions for industry and consumers in the post-Brexit relationship”, adding that “the exploratory work may be worth it now”.

The letter added: “The recognition of such potential is a strong indicator of confidence in the future of the economy.”

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Winston Churchill’s grandson, Tory backbench MP Nicholas Soames, also backed Mr Johnson’s proposal at the time and said: “It’s a great idea.”

Bridge designer Ian Firth, former president of the Institution of Structural Engineers, said a channel bridge – possibly with a section of tunnel in the middle to avoid impacting one of the tracks busiest boating in the world – wasn’t as far-fetched as it might sound.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “It is entirely doable. Prior to the construction of the tunnel, bridge options were under consideration.

“There are bridges of a similar – if not quite the same – scale elsewhere. Of course, that wouldn’t be a large span – the economy may lean towards something like spans of 800m to 1km.

“It would be a colossal undertaking, but it would be entirely possible, and the problems of impact on shipping could be solved.”

Despite the enthusiasm, Ms May’s official spokesperson has repeatedly declined to support the idea.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also seemed lukewarm on the concept of the bridge.

He told Europe 1 radio: “All ideas deserve to be considered, even the most outlandish.

“We have big European infrastructure projects that are complicated to finance. Let’s finish things that are already underway before we think of new ones.”

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This notice was published: 2021-05-18 12:30:00