Monday, July 7, 2014

Problems With Cross Channel Tunnel Link as New Freight Truck Facility Development Begins

Broken Down Train, Evacuation and Major Delays Take the Shine Off New Infrastructure Investment
Shipping News Feature

UK – FRANCE – Good and bad news today for Groupe Eurotunnel with an early morning service of ‘Le Shuttle’ being incapacitated in the Channel Tunnel link causing the mass evacuation of hundreds of passengers via the service tunnels on the very day a major new investment project to make life better for freight trucks and their drivers was announced.

The 06:20 departure from the UK to France suffered a power outage when part way through the undersea link caused by a problem with overhead lines. More than 380 people disembarked and were loaded onto a train in the adjacent tunnel, the only one operating for the remainder of the day and causing major congestion problems, particularly at St Pancras. The service reverted to 90 minute slots in each direction with the vehicles abandoned in the stricken train to be collected by their owners when it was recovered.

The problem occurred just as Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Groupe Eurotunnel SA was due to lay the first stone on the new Coquelles freight terminal. The development, in tandem with the infrastructure, mobility and services (and vehicle toll experts) group, Sanef, is in preparation for the arrival of 2 million trucks per year within a decade, the forecast for goods vehicles to rise from the current 1.5 million per annum.

The first phase of Terminal 2015 will bring a buffer parking zone, enabling rapid transit and an easier access to the check in area, which will be increased from two lanes to five. Subsequently, the new layout will enable an increase in loading to 8 departures per hour compared to 6 today. Eurotunnel, which styles itself the 'world’s leading rolling motorway', is preparing to increase capacity and further improve the management of traffic flows to ensure speed, ease and competitive advantage.

Onsite capacity will increase with the addition of a 370 place secure parking area alongside the Coquelles terminal. Sanef, is to provide state of the art technology to the new Eurotunnel parking area, to respond to the needs of truck drivers who require secure parking, with services, as near to the Tunnel as possible. A similar project will shortly begin in Folkestone, Kent, with the creation of extra access lanes and a new, enhanced check in plaza. Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Groupe Eurotunnel SA, commented:

“Eurotunnel, the leader across the Channel, is making these investments to provide new services and unbeatable frequency of departure for its ever increasing numbers of customers.”

Photo: Eurotunnel staff supervise passengers, devoid of their cars, as they stand on the replacement train heading for France.