Eurotunnel to slash track charges by 50pc after European probe

 
Harriet Green
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Eurotunnel’s announced that it’ll reduce track access charges by up to 50 per cent, following an investigation by the European Commission (EC).

The move could see rail freight in the tunnel double over the next five years, to 5,000, the EC's said.

The 1994 tunnel sees seven freight trains go through it every day, meaning 43 per cent unused capacity.

In the first quarter of this year, traffic in the tunnel rose 13 per cent, following last year’s 10 per cent increase.

Eurotunnel’s chief exec Jacques Gounon told City A.M. last week that there is “no real limit to deal with new traffic”.

According to the EC, the lack of traffic is predominantly down to Eurotunnel’s high track access charges.

The firm has now confirmed it’ll reduce charges for off-peak hours by 25 per cent, while the toll for weekend maintenance will be cut by a third.

Access during the most expensive maintenance periods is to be reduced from three to two nights per week, and the €600 fee currently imposed on freight operators will also be got rid of.

The company’s decision is a direct response to the legal probe the EC opened against the UK and France last year over failure to implement European rules on access to infrastructure in the Channel Tunnel.

EC vice-president Siim Kallas said the move “stands to unblock a major bottleneck in Europe’s transport network”, calling it good news for business and the environment.

The new charge scheme will begin in June of this year and stay in place until at least 2023. Charges won’t be adapted to the inflation rate until 2018, either.