Eurostar is now a financial basket case. Shareholders had already pumped in €200m to keep it afloat during the crisis before a second £250m bailout in May, that included £150m in loans guaranteed by shareholders, and the restructuring of £50m of existing loans.
To just break even, Eurostar needs passenger numbers to recover to half what they were before coronavirus.
Yet the rebound will be slow and painful. The future of international travel is desperately unclear. Airlines will axe their least profitable routes, but what about high-speed trains? The case for HS2 was weak before coronavirus. Hybrid working may have destroyed it completely.
A rival service won’t come easy. Deutsche Bahn attempted to set up a service from London to Frankfurt a decade ago but eventually gave up. Renfe says it will take three years to establish.
But when it does, the benefits for passengers should be massive.
A service that many have long complained is expensive should become more affordable and eventually include routes to new destinations in France and beyond, opening up parts of Europe that were previously only reachable by subjecting oneself to the misery, humiliation, and servitude of a Ryanair flight.