EPF is keen to ensure that the various competition authorities make safeguarding passengers’ interests a precondition for authorising the proposed merger between Eurostar and Thalys. Members were updated at their General Meeting in January on constructive exchanges that have already taken place with DG COMP. As we recorded last month, EPF recognises that the merger should allow the two high speed operators to offer a more extensive network, increase connectivity and service frequency, responding to the increasing demand for more sustainable travel. But we are also concerned that without suitable remedies in place, the joining of the two undertakings to create one company could reduce competition, leading to higher fares and reduced service levels on those sections where Thalys and Eurostar presently compete whilst causing obstacles for new entrants. The General Meeting suggested that member associations potentially affected by the merger might like to make representations to their separate national competition authorities.
Members were interested to learn that Eurostar has been in touch with EPF to clarify their intentions on a point of immediate concern – the difficulties that people had experienced lately in obtaining competitively-priced tickets previously sold by DB in cooperation with Eurostar. Eurostar has told EPF that the technical issues underlying this problem, with migration to their new inventory system, should be resolved in the spring. Unfortunately, until then, it will not be possible to book any of the popular joint DB-Eurostar tickets for travel beyond March 13th. However, we are assured by Eurostar that it remains dedicated to offering a convenient solution for travel between London and Germany.