Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Channel Tunnel Intermodal Freight Traffic Levels Rise as RoRo Ferry Services Struggle

Eurotunnel Thrives Compared to Some Sea Borne Rivals
Shipping News Feature

UK – FRANCE – EUROPE – In the same month that we have witnessed the demise of RoRo ferry operator SeaFrance, Eurotunnel, the cross channel rail bound piggy back service, has recorded growth of around 16% last year on its truck shuttles which pushed the company’s share of the market up to 38% representing an upswing of 3.5% against the previous year. Eurotunnel was swift to point out however that this must be balanced against the 12% drop overall in traffic since the high point achieved in 2007. The company’s intermodal services have also shown steady growth in a sector in which they have no competition.

As the only rail based route between the UK and mainland Europe the train operators using the tracks have accounted for an extra 14% of freight trains carrying 17% more tonnage than the previous year which Eurotunnel says is due to punctual and reliable intermodal services whilst stating its belief that this part of the service will only increase in popularity in future years.

Eurotunnel’s rail freight subsidiaries are singled out for praise with Europorte witnessing a substantial increase in revenues (+26% like for like) as a result of the signature of new contracts and the maintenance of all the established Europorte France contracts whilst GB Railfreight, the third largest rail freight operator in the UK, and Europorte Channel have established new links to Italy and Spain respectively using reefer equipment for perishable cargoes.

With passenger levels also rising fourth quarter revenue for the group overall rose 14% to €217 million but with the LD Lines/DFDS cooperative attempting to launch a new RoRo ferry service to fill any vacuum left by the failure of SeaFrance following Eurotunnel’s possibly tongue in cheek bid for the company (which P&O apparently threatened to report to the EU anti trust commission if genuine), 2012 is likely to prove testing for all participants in the Anglo French crossing trade if current traffic levels persist as seems likely.