Eurotunnel slashes prices

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Eurotunnel has slashed prices for its rail freight services. It says the average toll for a train will be halved to £3,000 compared to 2007.
The Channel Tunnel operator has come in for severe criticism from rail freight users for its pricing policy, which they said was making their operations uneconomic.
Eurotunnel said the new pricing structure was intended to re-launch rail-freight through the Channel Tunnel by encouraging the transfer of freight transport to rail, in line with the environmental protection objectives put in place by the governments on either side of the Channel.
After the opening of the Channel Tunnel in 1994, freight traffic grew to three million tonnes in 1997 and then stagnated until 2000, before declining to just over a million tonnes in 2007. These figures should be compared to the original design capacity of  some 10 million tonnes.
The main reason for this was the growing lack of competitiveness relative to road transport, as a result of the impact of the fixed costs of frontier infrastructure (including security constraints) which were steadily leading to its complete disappearance.
As well as reducing prices, the structure, which is being introduced immediately, is also simpler than before.
Eurotunnel says  it expects this to reverse the downward trend in cross-Channel rail-freight followed by a rapid return to 1997 levels (3 million tonnes), with a development target of 6 million tonnes thereafter.
Jacques Gounon, chairman and chief executive of Groupe Eurotunnel SA, said:  “This voluntary and pragmatic strategy, which is backed by our existing railway partners and by the British government, shows that Eurotunnel is strongly committed to the re-launch of cross-Channel rail-freight.”
Rail freight operator EWS has welcomed the new regime saying it would “assist in addressing the dramatic decline of Channel Tunnel rail freight over the last twelve months”.
 Commercial director David Kerr said: “The new framework for rail freight charging will provide greater clarity on costs and stimulate the movement of intermodal traffic on longer trains, thereby playing a major part in the reduction of transport’s carbon footprint. The introduction of Open Access arrangements will provide EWS International and Euro Cargo Rail with the opportunity to deliver faster transit times and increased service reliability, competing with alternative modes of transport.”

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