Dartford MP, Gareth Johnson, is set to have an urgent meeting with the Rail Minister to discuss the ‘perilous’ position of HS1 due to coronavirus.
During questions to the Transport Secretary in the House of Commons on Monday, Mr Johnson said: “Thousands of international travellers used to come into the country via HS1 before the virus hit. Now HS1 is in a perilous position, with both Ebbsfleet and Ashford stations closed to international travellers until at least 2021. Given the Department’s commitment to high-speed rail, would the Secretary of State or one of his team care to meet HS1, Eurostar and me to try to resolve this serious situation?”
In response, the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, said: “Yes, it is a concern that those stations are closed until 2021 and I would be very happy, with the Rail Minister, to have that meeting. It is extremely concerning and is, again, another sign of how all-encompassing the fight against this virus—it is not over yet—is. I will make sure that the meeting is set up.”
Following his question, Mr Johnson said the meeting is expected in the next few days.
He added: “HS1 is funded via Eurostar, a mainly French company, that is suffering significant financial problems during this outbreak. I am deeply concerned about its immediate future and I hope both the French and British Governments can act to keep it viable.”