Thalys and Eurostar have announced the wish to merge into one company. Is this merger beneficial for passengers? In general competition is good for the consumers. EPF has seen that the competition on the HSL from Turino to Napoli in Italy has led to lower prices and more passengers. The same can be said about the line from Vienna to Salzburg where Westbahn has challenged the monopoly of ÖBB. The result was lower prices and more passengers.

Thalys is owned for 60% by SNCF and for 40% by SNCB. Thalys has a monopoly between Paris and Amsterdam. The prices are so high that many people avoid the train and take a plane, a car or a bus.

Between Amsterdam and Brussels passengers have three options: the cheap but slow Beneluxtrain and the fast but very expensive Thalys. In between is the Eurostar. It has the same comfort as the Thalys but it is a lot cheaper. For EPF it is obvious that a merger between Thalys and Eurostar will result in higher prices and less passengers.

EPF has written to the Directorate-General Competition of the European Union to draw attention to the possible negative effects for passengers. The good news is that the EU-authorities took the letter of EPF seriously. A hearing was organised in December 2021, where EPF could explain its worries. We will see what the EU is going to say about this merger.

Arriën Kruyt