Thursday, December 18, 2014

Freight Truck Record Set as RoRo Ferry Decision Seemingly Postponed

Good and Potentially Bad News for Channel Tunnel Operator
Shipping News Feature

FRANCE – UK – Groupe Eurotunnel has reason to celebrate this week, but the operator of the Channel Tunnel must have hoped there would have been more good news as it awaits the decision of the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in the matter of its MyFerryLink subsidiary. According to French sources, namely Natacha Bouchart, Mayor of Calais, speaking at the final Town Council gathering of the year, the decision as to the legality of the RoRo passenger and freight ferry service will not be released until mid-January, despite loud, semi-official whispers that an answer would be forthcoming ‘before Christmas’.

Of course it may be bad news and, should the Tribunal decide that by operating on the waves as well as below, Eurotunnel controls an unacceptable share of the cross Channel trade, it will mean in six short months the former SeaFrance ferries will have to withdraw.

So what of good news? The latest trade figures actually go a long way to prove the case of those who consider taking the MyFerryLink operation out of the equation somehow increases competition. Between Monday 8 until Sunday 14 December 2014 a total of 36,285 trucks were carried between Folkestone, Kent and Coquelles, France, (in both directions) which is the most sustained level of traffic ever seen in one week since the inauguration of Channel Tunnel services in 1994.

Shuttles operated by Eurotunnel, now selling itself as ‘the world’s leading rolling motorway’, maintained a frequency that reached one departure every ten minutes in each direction. With operations running 24/7 and 365 days a year, Eurotunnel’s Shuttles can claim to be the undisputed fast route across the Channel.

A good end to the old year then but only time will tell if the New Year will work out well for the Tunnel operator or its competitive rivals which operate on the waves rather than under them.