Paris Nord station

EUROPE: Eurostar Group has been established as the holding company for international high speed train operators Eurostar and Thalys, and the shareholders have announced their ambition for the combined services to carry 30 million passengers/year within 10 years, compared to 18 million in 2019.

Eurostar Group shareholders
SNCF 55·75%
Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec 19·31%
SNCB 18·5%
Federated Hermes Infrastructure 6·44%

Brussels-based Eurostar Group is owned by France’s national railway SNCF, Belgian national passenger operator SNCB and investors CDPQ and Federated Hermes Infrastructure, which bought the UK government’s stake in Eurostar.

It owns 100% of Eurostar International Ltd and Thalys’ parent company THI Factory, both of which remain ‘fully fledged’ railway companies with their headquarters in London and Brussels.

The shareholders have appointed Eurostar CEO Jacques Damas as Chief Executive of the new entity, supported by a ‘symmetric’ executive committee representing both Eurostar and Thalys.

The Green Speed project to merge Eurostar and Thalys was announced in September 2019. It was temporarily postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but was relaunched in autumn 2021 and received regulatory approval from the European Commission’s competition authority at the end of March 2022.

Announcing the formation of Eurostar Group on April 29, the shareholders said the ‘alliance’ would accelerate the recovery of Eurostar and Thalys, which have both been hit by the pandemic, and they are now ‘more convinced than ever’ that the combination will help to meet the growing demand for sustainable travel by promoting the development of rail transport in Europe.

Speaking at the launch of Ouigo Train Classique on April 11, Alain Krakovitch, SNCF Voyageurs’ Director of Long Distance Services, said that traffic is already recovering and the first aim is to get back to a pre-pandemic normality.

He said the Thalys brand would ‘progressively’ disappear with passengers only seeing the Eurostar name, but the Thalys rolling stock would retain its red livery and Eurostar its blue.