Spain plots challenge to Eurostars Channel Tunnel monopoly –

Eurostar is facing a challenge to its monopoly running rail services under the English Channel as Spain’s state-backed operator plots a challenge to its French-owned rival. 

Renfe, which this week boasted of its return to profitability without state subsidies from Madrid, is threatening Eurostar’s dominance for the first time since the crossing was opened in 1994.

The move comes as the latest twist in a tit-for-tat battle between rail companies on the Continent as they implement Brussels rules forcing them to liberalise long-distance train journeys. 

Renfe’s bosses claim the service could be profitable within four years and have earmarked seven trains. These would need to be approved by the UK and HS1, the privately-owned high-speed line between Folkestone and St Pancras station.

Renfe has held talks with HS1, owned by a collection of pension and infrastructure investors, about starting services, according to Railway Gazette International, which first reported the Spanish’s firm’s interest.

Eurostar has had a monopoly on operating passenger rail services through the Channel Tunnel for more than a quarter of a century.

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