THE merger of international high-speed operators Eurostar and Thalys has been completed with the creation of a new holding company, Eurostar Group, based in Brussels.
Eurostar Group is 55.75% owned by SNCF Voyageurs, the long-distance passenger business of the French national operator, with 19.31% held by Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), 18.5% by Belgian state operator SNCB and 6.44% by funds managed by Federated Hermes Infrastructure.
The new holding company owns 100% of railway operating companies Eurostar International and THI Factory (Thalys), whose head offices remain in London and Brussels respectively.
The shareholders have appointed Mr Jacques Damas as CEO of Eurostar Group. He is currently CEO of Eurostar International.
The merger of Eurostar, which operates from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, and Thalys which operates from Paris to Brussels, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Cologne, began in September 2019 under the Green Speed project.
Postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the project was relaunched in autumn 2021 and received approval from the European Commission at the end of March 2022.
The shareholders in Eurostar and Thalys say they are more convinced than ever that this new alliance will enable them to meet the growing demand for sustainable travel in Europe by developing rail.
They aim to grown passenger traffic to 30 million passengers a year over the next 10 years, from a base of 18 million passengers in 2019, under a sole Eurostar brand.
The merger should also provide a powerful means of accelerating recovery from the pandemic at both Eurostar and Thalys.
In 2019 Eurostar International carried 11.1 million passengers and recorded a turnover of £1.02bn. It currently employs 1460 staff from 34 countries.
Thalys carried a total of 7.85 million passengers in 2019 when turnover was €549.5m. The company employs 614 staff from 11 countries.