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Brexit: French rail bosses ease fears over Eurostar services

The head of France's SNCF railways on Monday allayed fears that Brexit might hit or even halt Eurostar links between the country and Britain.

Brexit: French rail bosses ease fears over Eurostar services
File photo: AFP
Guillaume Pepy said there would be some “details” to iron out pertaining to cross-border formalities even if Britain does leave the European Union without a deal on the March 29 deadline.
   
However, he said that the “fundamentals to run Eurostar are there even if there is no deal.”
   
There have been fears that a no-deal Brexit might see existing licences for UK train operators providing services in continental Europe lose their automatic validity.
   
But Pepy said he could reassure customers.
   
“Things are now very, very concrete so that, whatever the (exit) scenario, Eurostar will be able to travel correctly,” Pepy told reporters in Paris.
   
“We are well aware that the devil will be in the details so we are working on the details,” he said, adding some minor issues would nevertheless require attention in the coming weeks.
 
“And then, in concrete terms, we shall have to see how things are organised at Gare du Nord (in Paris) and Saint Pancras (in London) regarding identity and customs checks.”
   
He added if such controls brought delays then train officials would need to assess “if we hold back the train a few minutes or send people on their way in the following train.”
   
On Thursday the Financial Times reported aspects of a confidential British government report alluding to fears of a backlog of as many as 15,000 people at the Saint Pancras terminal which could affect timetables.
   
SNCF has a 55 percent stake in Eurostar with Quebec's pension and insurance plans institutional investor CDPQ holding a further 30 percent.
   
British investment management firm Hermes Infrastructure has a 10 percent stake with five percent held by Belgian railways.

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Eurostar’s souvenir bomb warning after Paris station evacuated

Passengers on Eurostar have been warned about bringing shells that have been turned into souvenirs onto the trains after Paris' Gare du Nord station had to be evacuated.

Eurostar's souvenir bomb warning after Paris station evacuated
The Eurostar terminal at Gare du Nord was evacuated
The Paris transport hub had to be evacuated early on Monday morning after a World War II shell was found in a passenger's bag.
 

 

The evacuation, which happened at about 5.45am on Monday, was completed by 10am, but has led to longer than usual queues for Eurostar services.

It is the latest in a series of security alerts caused by passengers trying to take souvenir war artillery on to trains.

Eurostar issued a special warning ahead of the First World War commemorations in November 2018, but with just a month to go until memorial events for the D Day landings, there are fears that the problems could recur.
 
“As you're travelling during the commemoration period, please remember that you can't bring any real or replica bombs, shells (complete or partial) or weapons on board – even if you bought them from a gift shop,” Eurostar told passengers last year.
   
“If you bring them with you, they'll be confiscated at security and may result in the need to evacuate the station.”
   
Old World War I shells turned into flower pots have been popular souvenirs in Belgium and France ever since the end of the conflict, but passengers attempting to take them on board trains for Britain have sparked bomb scares in recent years.
 
Some of the alerts, which happen every few months, have also been caused by war memorabilia collectors bringing back disarmed ordnance unearthed by farmers at battle sites in northeast France.
   
Eurostar said even disarmed shells can set off X-ray alarms.
   
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