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Low cost cross-channel rail: tough competition with existing services

Groupe Eurotunnel (now the Getlink Group) has commissioned a feasibility study by the consultant Roland Berger to introduce 'low cost' rail operations between the UK and France. The study outlines an operating model similar to that of SNCF, (the French state rail operator) and Thalys (a joint high-speed rail venture between SNCF, SNCB [Belgium] and Deutsche Bahn [Germany] low cost rail services in Europe).

A reduction of between 25% and 30% on regular Eurostar ticket costs is expected, at the cost of travel time increasing from 2 hours 20 minutes to slightly more than three hours, according to the study.

This proposal will mean that passengers will need to make their own way to suburban stations to board a train that takes them by a circuitous route on older tracks to the outskirts of Paris, where they then have to board another train to complete their journey. And on multiple tickets. And with no UK provincial connections.

The fundamental difference with budget air travel is that it made it not only cheaper but often more convenient, flying directly from the local airport on one ticket to one at least close to the ultimate destination.

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