Record travel numbers for Eurotunnel

Marion Dakers
EUROTUNNEL enjoyed a record summer this year, after car traffic rose 17 per cent on last year with more than half a million cars taking the trip between Kent and Calais in July and August.

The French company, which trades on the London and Paris stock exchanges, said it broke its previous passenger record on 14 August, when almost 15,000 cars and 150 buses used the Chanel Tunnel. The company said traffic was heavier than in 1999, when the end of duty-free sales within the European Union prompted a scramble to stock up on cut-price goodies on the continent.

This summer also saw Eurotunnel Eurotunnel celebrate the crossing of the 250 millionth passenger transported through the Tunnel, since services commenced in 1994.

Eurotunnel’s commercial director Jo Willacy said: “The intense activity through the summer shows that “Le Shuttle” is the perfect answer to our customers expectations: it is value for money and respectful of the environment. Our whole commercial strategy is aimed at increasing our traffic and our performance this summer is an incentive to continue in the same vein.”

The bumper summer traffic was part of a broader rise in passengers using the tunnel.

Eurotunnel recently said truck numbers grew by 41 per cent and car transport rose 17 per cent in the year to July, while the passenger train operator Eurostar saw a six per cent increase in the same period.

Part of the gain was due to the Icelandic ash cloud playing havoc with air travel, the firms said, though yesterday’s Eurotunnel figures referred to a time period after the cloud disruption ended in May.

Eurotunnel failed to make a profit last year, however, due to a dispute with Eurostar over insurance responsibility for the tunnel fire in 2008. A total of €48m in indemnities is being held back by a court until the fight is resolved.