Eurostar trains could be temporarily suspended in the event of a no-deal Brexit its majority shareholder has admitted.
French national rail firm SNCF, which holds a 55% stake in the cross-Channel rail operator, said on Wednesday (31 July) that such are the ongoing uncertainties around the UK’s proposed departure from the EU, it could not guarantee service.
SNCF said despite taking all necessary measures to avoid a combination of “the most unfavourable factors” that would “likely culminate in a lengthy suspension of activity”, the group was unable to “guarantee its ability to continue its operations with interruption”.
“The operational risks still depend on the actual Brexit terms and conditions, particularly the review of the levels of border control for passengers and costs of compliance with the new applicable post-Brexit rules,” said SNCF in a trading update on Wednesday.
“In the event of a no-deal Brexit, as the company does not have all the key components to ensure service continuity, and given the exceptional nature of this situation, it is difficult to predict the consequences with sufficient assurance.”
To mitigate any potential effects of Brext, SNCF has created a French subsidiary with new operating permit and safety certificate; and has sought agreements with all relevant authorities on border control measures, cross-border employment of UK personnel and agreements on access to the Channel Tunnel.
SNCF on Wednesday posted consolidated revenue of €936 million for the six months to 30 June, €556 million of which was generated from Eurostar.
On the financial impact of Brexit, SNCF added: “In the light of the uncertainties surrounding the Brexit process, the group cannot at this stage estimate the financial impacts and repercussions on its activity.”
Eurostar has previously said it expects to maintain services on their existing basis, timetable and terms and conditions following Brexit, adding it is working with station partners, governments and border authorities to ensure "robust plans" are in place in the event of a deal or no-deal scenario.