Business, Freight News, Sea

A new name for the Channel

[ July 24, 2012   //   ]

Eurotunnel’s new shipping subsidiary will be branded Myferrylink and could be in operation in mid-August, Eurotunnel chairman and CEO Jacques Gounon told a press conference on 23 July. Start of the new service would not have to await any decision by the competition authorities in Brussels, UK or France, said the Eurotunnel boss. Initially, three services will be offered in each direction per day, based on the two SeaFrance passenger vessels the Berlioz and the Rodin. The freight-only Nord Pas de Calais could also reenter service later in the year, depending on the renewal of her safety certificate. Thereafter, service development would depend on the speed at which gained customers.

In an otherwise positive period, Eurotunnel’s through-railfreight traffic suffered a 27% drop in tonnage and an 18% reduction in the number of trains in the second quarter of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. Jacques Gounon partly blamed a new €600-per-train ‘security levy imposed by the French rail infrastructure body RFF for the drop. The lack of transparency and predictability of freight charges was putting railfreight customers off, complained M. Gounon, who pledged to pursue the matter with the French railway regulator.

Eurtotunnel’s truck shuttle business was, in contrast, up 19% in the second quarter of 2012 compared with 2011. Eurotunnel’s freight and passenger shuttles are currently operating at a top speed of 160kmph (100mph) to help smooth the flow of traffic through the Tunnel during the exceptionally busy Olympics period. (Eurostar trains already run at 160kmph through the tunnel.)

Thereafter a decision would be taken on whether to revert to the old 140kmph (87mph) limit, based on the information on maintenance costs gleaned during the Olympics. However, it was likely that the 160kmph limit would be continue to be used at busy times and it was probably that the higher speed limit would be introduced for all shuttles from 2015 when new German high speed passenger trains are expected to join the existing Eurostar trains, thereby increasing the amount of traffic through the tunnel.

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