Eurostar-Thalys rail merger proceeds, challenges European air routes

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With all the problems the air transport industry has at present, and those it will face again from the environmental lobby, it does not need any more. But a merger between two of the leading high-speed rail companies in northern Europe – Eurostar and Thalys, which was first mooted last year but considered unlikely to come to fruition soon, is pressing ahead.

What it will do is to present the aviation business with a genuine threat to its revival prospects across six very highly populated areas – Southeast England, Ile de France, Hauts de France, Belgium, the Dutch Randstad, and Germany’s Ruhr. And even further, if other operators join as associates to form a regulatory area of their own and exiting experiments between France and Spain are continued.

But rail does not have it all its own way. Services have been decimated just as they have in the air, and there are some technical difficulties to overcome.

Nevertheless we are shaping up for an almighty war for business in some of Europe’s most important regions.

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