Eurotunnel cuts freight charges, EU sees boost to traffic
Eurotunnel, which operates trains through the Channel tunnel, announced on Monday price cuts for freight, in a move welcomed by the European Commission which had begun legal action to lower charges and increase traffic.
Eurotunnel said that to boost further a programme to develop new freight services launched in May 2013, it would cut tariffs for off-peak services at night during the week.
It would also reduce prices by a third during periods of maintenance on the tunnel which would be cut back to two night per week instead of three.
In Brussels, the Commission welcomed Eurotunnel's decision to reduce track access charges by what it estimated would be "up to 50 percent" and that "this should allow rail freight in the Channel Tunnel to double in the next five years."
It said: "The Channel Tunnel is not being used to capacity, and a major reason for that is high track access charges."
The Commission's Vice President Siim Kallas said that the decision "stands to unblock a major bottleneck in Europe's transport network" and was good news for business, for consumers and for the environment because rail transport was the most energy-efficient way of moving cargo.
The company also said that it had obtained an end of surcharge by the French rail-track body, Reseau Ferre de France, for security at Frethun railway station and goods yard facility at the French end of the tunnel, which runs beneath the sea to southern England.
Eurotunnel said it would not raise charges for freight until the end of 2018.
The company said: "Rail freight traffic through the Channel Tunnel having increased by 10.0 percent in 2013 and 13.0 percent in the first quarter of 2014, Eurotunnel has decided to reinforce its efforts to support the development of this traffic."
It said that the target was to double the number of trains to 5,000 per year in 2018, and added that the tariff conditions "conform to European legislation".
© 2014 AFP