Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from ASLEF (RES 9)


  I write with reference to your letter of 24 November 1998 on the above, and offer the following response to your four questions.

    —  What technical hurdles still need to be overcome before Eurostars are able to operate on the West Coast Main Line.

  This is a matter for Eurostar. The latest information that the Society has is that they have a licence to operate services on the WCML, but for staff training purpose only.

    —  What the commercial prospects are for Eurostar operations north of London.

  Eurostar evidently do not believe that a business case exists for running services north of London. It is expected that they would not run them unless they receive a government subsidy, in the same way that Local Authorities subsidise certain uneconomic but socially useful bus services.

  Virgin Trains do believe that they have a business case, and refer you to their proposals made on 10 June 1998 to the Chairman of LCR.

  The Fast Tracks to Europe Alliance also believe that a business case exists, as put forward in their report entitled "The impact of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link on the regional economies `North of London'".

    —  Whether other uses have been considered for the regional Eurostar trains:

  It is our understanding that Eurostar are now considering using the sets from Heathrow Airport. Testing for gauge compliance has already been undertaken. The long term aim is for British Airways (BA) to substitute Eurostar services for aeroplane landing and take off slots at Heathrow to services to Paris and Brussels. The slots can then be used for more profitable long haul flights by BA. At present, the platform at Heathrow is not long enough to take a full nine car Eurostar, so it is expected that platform extension work will have to be undertaken.

    —  When a decision will be made about whether Eurostar services will be operated north of London.

  Again, this is a Eurostar decision. However, it is expected that they will not make a decision until the Transport Sub-Committee reports back to the Minister and the House. It is our view that they will probably not run services unless they are given a subsidy by the Government, or by Local Authorities north of London.

M D Rix

General Secretary

1 December 1998

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