Eurostar and Thalys aim to double rail travel under new merger

LILLE, FRANCE - JANUARY 08: Eurostar Train in Lille on JANUARY 08, 2009. Eurostar engine at train station in Lille, France.

Two of Europe’s leading rail providers, Eurostar and Thalys, have merged as they look to take advantage of the increasing demand for rail travel in western Europe.

As many global travellers look to make steps towards sustainability, rail travel has had a resurgence to the mainstream and Gwendoline Cazenave, the group’s new CEO, said the rebranding was a “unique moment for rail travel”, during a launch event in Brussels.

“We have been operating for over 27 years connecting people, places, cultures and businesses across borders,” she said. “It’s the first time in the history of high-speed rail that two high-speed companies are merging.”

“Now for the next chapter, Eurostar will be the backbone of sustainable travel across European borders. We will have the largest international high-speed network in western Europe – no other railway crosses as many borders.”

The companies will operate solely under the Eurostar name with a new logo being applied to all 51 trains. There will be a single loyalty scheme across the group which also plans to launch a single reservation system, website and app for all services before the end of 2023.

Thalys will operate under the Eurostar name in the new partnership. (iStock – pejft)

Eurostar carried 15 million passengers in 2022, up from 19 million in 2019 and with corporate travel still yet to fully recover post COVID, it has goals to cater for 30 million travellers annually by 2030.

Cazenave emphasised that one of the issues holding back Eurostar’s growth was “bottlenecks” at its major stations, including London St Pancras and Amsterdam, which was limiting capacity and causing some trains to operate at less than 50 per cent of capacity and played down the side effects of Brexit saying there was “still willingness to travel” between the UK and Europe.

Christophe Fanichet, CEO of SNCF Voyageurs, which is the majority shareholder in Eurostar, added: “This new Eurostar brand, with its unified network, is at the heart of our ambition to enable international rail development and to double its modal share by 2030.”

Alain Krakovitch, chairman of Eurostar Group’s board, added: “We know that 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 in the long term.”

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