Eurostar
The government has reiterated its plans to sell the EurostarReuters

The government is to sell its stake in Eurostar in a bid to bolster public finances.

The UK government, which owns a 40% share in the cross-channel train service, said it intends to steam ahead with the sale of its stake, following plans outlined in 2013's Autumn Statement and National Infrastructure Plan.

By the year 2020, it hopes to raise £20bn via financial and corporate assets sales.

Chancellor George Osborne said: "I am determined that we go on making the decisions to reform the British economy and tackle our debts. So we will proceed with the potential sale of the UK's shareholding in Eurostar today.

"Ensuring that we can deliver the best quality infrastructure for Britain and the best value for money for the taxpayer are key parts of our long-term economic plan.

"As part of our aim to achieve £20bn from assets sales by 2020, the sale proceeds would make an important contribution to the task of reducing the public sector debt."

However, general secretary of the RMT rail union, Mick Cash, was vocal in his concerns about selling the Eurostar because of the increased foreign ownership of British rail services.

"This compounds the issue of foreign ownership of Britain's railways as the French state has first refusal on our slice of the highly profitable Eurostar cake. The French and Belgians think we are insane knocking off such a valuable and strategic infrastructure asset," he said.

Mary Creagh MP, Labour's shadow transport secretary, said that getting value for money is essential for the taxpayers sake.

"The National Audit Office should urgently conduct a value-for-money enquiry before this sale proceeds.

"We must ensure that taxpayers are not ripped off again by bungling ministers and poor financial advice from the City," she said.