Eurostar dismisses warnings over no-deal Brexit queue chaos

High-speed Channel Tunnel rail firm Eurostar has played down warnings that a no-deal Brexit could lead to mile-long queues at its St Pancras International station in London.

Mike Cooper, the chief executive of Eurostar, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that a leaked Department for Transport (DfT) report last month revealing a no deal could cause chaos for Eurostar passengers was “misleading”.

He added the firm is “clearly hoping for the best but we are planning for all eventualities” and said there is no plan to adjust timetables.

The DfT documents cautioned that there would be queues of up to 15,000 people a day at the King’s Cross station, due to the rigorous passport checks that would need to be put in place in a no-deal scenario.

But Mr Cooper said he was as “confident as I possibly can be at this stage” that there would not be mile-long queues.

Asked if manual passport checks could be avoided, he said: “There is still 24 days to go and there is work still to be completed … we are in a great position, we have got operating licences in place, our safety certificates will be valid, e-gates will be valid and will be used as well.”

He said the authorities were “engaged” and “pragmatic” in terms of Brexit.

“We have no intention at the moment to plan any changes to the timetable,” he added.

“We are confident we are getting good levels of engagement with Government, with control authorities, with our station partners – people seem determined to keep the services running.”

His comments came as Eurostar reported a 68% surge in annual operating profits to £96.6 million for 2018 on sales revenues up 12%.

It said passenger numbers lifted 7% to a record 11 million in 2018, helped by the launch last year of its London to Amsterdam service, which was used by more than 250,000 travellers.

The group also saw a 12% rise in business passenger numbers last year.

Mr Cooper said the business was in “rude health”.