Eurostar has decided not to reopen its stations at Ashford and Ebbsfleet before 2022 due to “an unprecedented fall in demand”.
The train operator, which runs services from St Pancras station in London to the continent, said bookings were down by 90% compared with the same period in 2019 and the situation has been “exacerbated by quarantine restrictions”.
“Given the uncertain outlook, it is crucial that we adapt and take action to reduce our costs so that we protect our business for the future,” said Eurostar in a statement.
“In 2021, therefore, we will reduce our timetable, focusing only on our core routes and destinations where we see the highest demand.
“As a result, we have had to make the very difficult decision not to reopen Ashford International or Ebbsfleet International stations before 2022.
“We have not taken this decision lightly and have given this considerable thought but given the severity of the situation we have to take action.”
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes called for the government to provide support to Eurostar following the announcement.
“We will do all we can to work with the company to protect jobs, but we must see meaningful discussions for our members about options for those working at these two stations,” added Cortes.
“Frankly the extended closure of Ashford and Ebbsfleet is another clear sign that Eurostar needs help from the UK government – something I called for months ago.
“Ministers can’t be allowed to sit on the sidelines – they must act now. The transport secretary and chancellor simply have to step up to the plate and give Eurostar the proper support package it badly needs so that it can keep going under the present circumstances.”