Train operator hopeful Heuro aims to serve Paris and London

St Pancras International station in London. Photo:

British operator Eurostar, which currently has a monopoly on the high-speed links with London and Paris, may have to field competition from new Dutch operator Heuro from 2028.

Heuro, a combination of “high-speed and “Europe” is fronted by father and son business partners Roemer and Maarten van Biggelaar.  They plan to offer rail travellers 16 daily return services to Paris and 15 to London.

“The number of flights to Paris and London on a single day really makes no sense. There are 55 flights to London alone. These people are much better off taking the train. And here we have this wonderful tunnel under the channel which is underused, “ Roemer van Biggelaar told the AD.

Maarten van Biggelaar, whose business ventures include successful enterprises such as Planet Internet, The Box and business magazine Quote, had wanted to enter the market ten years ago as a competitor for the Thalys (now part of Eurostar), but talks with French operator SNCF fell through.

The demand for international train services has grown since then, with almost 15 million people travelling from Amsterdam to London and Paris, which, the Van Biggelaars said, warrants another effort.

The more frequent services will lower ticket prices, van Biggelaar said, but by how much he couldn’t say.

Two of the 16 trains to Paris will leave from Groningen, where Van Biggelen thinks there will be enough demand for the service, and there is room for a maintenance depot.

The new operator is currently in the process of approaching other companies to raise the hundreds of millions of euros needed to realise the plans.

“We have had one investment round with two investment companies, one in New York and one from Switzerland. We are now working on round two,” Van Biggelaar said. Talks are also in progress with train manufacturers. The trains will have to be able to reach speeds of up to 300 kph and carry between 450 and 550 passengers.

The new operator will have to face competition for space on the network from other new contenders, such as international operators Evolyn, Renfe and Trenitalia. Regional operators Arriva and Qbuzz also want in on the two routes.

The prospect does not daunt the Van Biggelaars. “We have spoken to many people this year and done a lot of market research. We are getting advice from former directors of Dutch Rail. We think we can pull this off,” they said.

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