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Thalys brand to disappear following Eurostar merger
The Thalys brand will vanish as part of its merger with Eurostar, as the new company unveiled its fresh logo in Brussels this week.
The new Eurostar Group logo features a star with the letter ‘e’ to symbolise the railway's connections - and in a nod to the logo for 1958 Brussels World Fair.
This new logo will come in a range of colours and will adorn all 51 of the company's trains by the end of the year, at which point the Thalys brand will fully disappear.
The Eurostar Group - the result of the merger between Eurostar and Thalys – has bold ambitions to connect the major capitals to each other and to all other rail networks.
“This is a unique moment in the European railway world,” said Gwendoline Cazenave, who has been chief executive of the Eurostar Group since October.
“Eurostar and Thalys had invented international high speed to connect Europeans across borders, and now we are bringing them together to build the backbone of green mobility, of sustainable travel across European borders.”
The new company aims to carry 30 million passengers by 2030, up from 15 million in 2022, by developing "open hubs" and connecting its network to those of national operators.
“Brussels is the centre of the star,” said Cazenave, referring to the new logo. “Brussels is also the centre of our network, where we are less than two hours from all our destinations.”
Cazenave said new destinations are also being looked into - but one destination that’s definitely not being considered is Brussels Airport: “If I said that one day we will return to Zaventem, I would be lying,” Cazenave said.
The airport itself will be disappointed to hear it. “An airport like Brussels Airport must have a high-speed train connection,” airport CEO Arnaud Feist said last year. “We hope the government will take the necessary initiatives.”
But Cazenave explained that Eurostar’s ‘raison d'être’ is to connect capitals to other capitals, and that Brussels Airport is already well-connected via ordinary rail.
Previous attempts to service Brussels Airport with high-speed trains from Thalys - connecting it with Paris - were also unprofitable.
“Our project is to connect major cities on high-speed lines,” Eurostar’s Cazenave said.
“Zaventem is not on a high-speed line, and there are already very good fast train connections to the airport.”
Beginning in October, Eurostar Group passengers will be able to travel to all the existing destinations of the current Eurostar and Thalys networks through use of a unified website, app and booking system.
The merger has been some time in the making, with the pandemic prompting delays in its rollout.
French railway company SNCF is the majority shareholder of the holding company (55.75% of the shares), while Belgium’s SNCB holds 18.5%.
The company’s headquarters are in Brussels, less than two hours from all of Eurostar Group's destinations, and the merger has not resulted in any losses of the roughly 2,000 jobs at stake.
“This is a growth project, not a cost-cutting one,” Cazenave said.