Train companies Eurostar and Thalys could combine to form a single operator covering five countries under plans laid out today by French and Belgian state railways.
The plans would need the green light from EU competition officials if they are approved by the company’s boards.
The merger is being marketed under the name of the “Green Speed” project, with French state railway SNCF and its Belgian counterpart SNCB stating it will help the environment by combining ticket distribution systems and streamlining train schedules.
The two operators, outlining their plans in combination with private equity companies, said combining Eurostar and Thalys would help boost passenger numbers from 18.5 million annually to 30 million by 2030. The services at present run 112 trains daily on routes between the U.K., France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
The deal would “herald a new era in the development of European high speed rail services,” said Guillaume Pepy, the boss of SNCF — with the company adding it responds to “the challenge of climate change and Europe’s growing demand for eco-responsible and sustainable travel.”
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