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The BBC's Louise Batchelor reports
"Direct services a distant prospect"
 real 28k

The Court of Session hearing
The BBC's Louise Batchelor
 real 28k

Friday, 19 November, 1999, 20:29 GMT
'Delight' at Tunnel court outcome
People have to travel to London to join Eurostar

Strathclyde Passenger Transport has expressed delight at the outcome of a Court of Session hearing in Edinburgh aimed at bringing Eurostar services to Scotland.

SPT had claimed that British Railways Board was failing in its statutory obligation to make the Channel Tunnel accessible to Scots.

More specifically, the court was asked to rule on whether the BRB had failed to meet its obligation to carry out a review of regional Eurostar services over the past 10 years.

In the absence of such a review, regional services to UK destinations outwith the south east of England have never materialised.

The hearing is in the Court of Session
The BRB admitted to the court that its 1989 plan for regional services was now out of date and that it had not discharged its duties under Section 40 of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987.

But the board claimed that since the end of 1998, by discussing the matter with SPT and the Department of Transport and the Regions, its review had in fact begun.

This view was not accepted by the judge, Lord Milligan.

The judge continued the case to allow BRB to consider the findings of the government's own ongoing review of services, and to decide whether to review its 1989 plan.

SPT chairman, Councillor Eric Ross, said: "I am delighted at this outcome, though sad we had to go to such lengths to prove our point. I hope BRB will take account of today's proceedings as quickly as possible.

"We are fighting on a point of principle - why should only the south east of England benefit from direct services to the continent when taxpayers from throughout the UK helped fund those services in the first place?"

Scots travelling to the continent must travel to London to join the Eurostar train taking them through the tunnel.

SPT wants a direct service and said it carried out an opinion poll which showed 40% were likely to use the Eurostar service if it was available from Scotland.

The court move follows complaints that Eurostar is charging UK passengers up to 20% more than customers who buy tickets on the continent.

Airline pricing policy

Passengers from London pay 129 for a leisure class return to Brussels or Paris, while people buying the same ticket in Brussels pay only 108. In Paris it costs 115.

Eurostar said it has followed the pricing policy of airlines, who offer cheaper fares to European customers.

Eurostar is operated jointly by Eurostar (UK) Ltd, French Railways (SNCF) and Belgian Railways (SNCB/NMBS).

The three railways are each represented on the board of Eurostar Group, a unified management structure set up to benefit both customers and the business.

There are 766 passenger seats on every Eurostar train, almost the equivalent to two Boeing 747 jet aircraft.

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See also:
30 Aug 99 |  The Company File
UK Eurostar ticket row
27 Jan 99 |  UK Politics
Regions 'cheated' over Eurostar

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