SNCF, SNCB and the Patina Rail investment vehicle announced on September 27 their intention to combine the Eurostar and Thalys high speed rail operations, reporting that outline proposals were being presented to their respective boards.
The proposed merger is being taken forward under a project branded Green Speed. SNCF already holds majority shares in both operators, with SNCB also having minority stakes in both. Canadian pension fund Caisse de Dépot et de Placement du Québec and Hermes GPE hold the shares in Eurostar previously controlled by the UK government through LCR; Hermes and CPDQ are working together on Green Speed under the Patina Rail brand.
Announcing the plan, the partners said that the imperative of fighting climate change meant that the time was right to redouble efforts to drive traffic from air and road to environmentally-friendly high speed rail. The proposals envisage the two operators increasing their combined ridership from 18 million passenger-journeys per year in 2018 to 30 million by 2030, while increasing efforts to provide sustainable mobility by using renewable energy for traction and redoubling sustainability initiatives onboard, such as the elimination of single-use plastic.