National Express owner holds talks over launching Eurostar rival ‘Evolyn’ - which could run as early as 2025
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Companies including the UK coach and train service Mobico, formerly known as National Express, have been holding talks over launching a cross-Channel railway service to rival Eurostar. The new rail service would be called Evolyn and could start running between London and Paris “as early as 2025”.
According to the Financial Times, parties also involved in detailed talks include Spain’s Cosmen family, which is an investor in Mobico, and France-based manufacturer Alstom. The discussions are understood to be at an early stage, but come as the travel industry bets on a rise in the usage of rail across Europe.
As much of the grid that powers the network is wind or nuclear-based, getting around by train in Europe is seen as a good way to decarbonise short-distance travel. Sleeper trains between cities have steadily been growing in popularity, posing a challenge to short-haul air travel.
The talks also come at a challenging time for Eurostar, which is struggling to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The service stopped running trains between London and Disneyland Paris last month, which it blamed on the pandemic and additional checks being brought in by Brexit.
Eurostar has set targets of doubling passenger numbers to 30 million by 2030 but border checks have slowed down growth. The future of its ski train to the Alps is also under review.
A spokesperson for Channel Tunnel owner Getlink, which reportedly considered launching its own Eurostar rival in 2018, said: “Getlink welcomes any initiative to increase high speed passenger traffic through the Tunnel – from the current operator or potential new entrants.”
Mobico and Eurostar both declined to comment.