EUROPE: The UK government, SNCF and SNCB are negotiating the transformation of Eurostar's tri-national structure into a single company, Secretary of State for Transport Lord Adonis told the upper house of the UK parliament on June 25. An agreement is expected later this year.

There have been several previous moves to convert Eurostar into a single, coherent corporate entity since it began operating high speed services through the Channel Tunnel in November 1994. The structure was originally based on operating divisions of British Rail and the two continental state railways, and Adonis said Eurostar is now 'an unincorporated joint venture operating co-operatively but separately in the three partner countries'.

The UK will contribute the assets and interests of Eurostar (UK) Ltd, currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of London & Continental Railways Ltd which passed into state ownership last month. 'Subject to further work and final agreement', the UK government's shareholding in the new single Eurostar company is expected to be 'in the order of 40%'. This suggests that SNCF is likely to hold around 40% and SNCB the remaining 20%.