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Virgin train, England
Photograph: Alex Daniels /

Eurostar’s London-Paris train route could soon be getting a new rival from Richard Branson

Rumour has it that Virgin bosses are already in talks with infrastructure officials

Amy Houghton
Written by
Amy Houghton

Eurostar has held a monopoly over the Channel Tunnel since it opened way back in 1994. Many companies have tried to take it on, but they’ve always fallen short – though that never seems to stop train bosses giving it a good go. And the latest fancying their chances against Eurostar? Why, Richard Branson of course. 

Rumour has it that the billionaire is planning a return to the UK rail scene after Virgin Train UK operations terminated four years ago. 

The Telegraph reported that Branson has asked former Virgin Trains boss Phil Whittingham to be in charge of creating a Eurostar rival that will run routes from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. He's apparently already in talks with infrastructure officials. 

Many have campaigned for greater competition in cross-Channel travel, hoping that it would help reduce fares for passengers. GetLink, which owns Eurostar said that it would in fact ‘welcome growth in traffic through the Channel Tunnel whether from the current incumbent, Eurostar, or from new entrants to the market’.

Don’t get too ahead of yourselves, though – nothing’s confirmed yet. A Virgin spokesman said ‘Virgin doesn’t comment on rumour or speculation,’ so best take the news with a pinch of salt. 

Time Out on the Eurostar

Virgin isn't the only business supposedly out to shake up cross-Channel rail travel. Last month a train company called Evolyn purchased a dozen trains for a new high speed route between Paris and London, due to set off in 2025. For the time being though, Eurostar remains the the ruler of the Channel tunnel. So, keep an eye on Time Out for all our Eurostar updates from when you can get cheap tickets to launches of exciting new routes.

ICYMI: Yorkshire is getting a dazzling new heritage railway

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