Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rail Freight Interests Delighted as Channel Tunnel Rates Fall

EU Investigation Prompts Eurotunnel to Reduce Charges
Shipping News Feature

UK – FRANCE – The latest announcement from Eurotunnel that it was committed to reduce the current level of freight train track access charges by up to 50% unsurprisingly met with a warm welcome from all in the logistics community with a foot in the rail cargo camp. The move comes following the European Commission investigation which we reported previously, and the findings and resolution of the authorities concerned.

The decision by the Channel Tunnel Regulator (the Intergovernmental Commission) obliging Eurotunnel to make its Channel Tunnel costs more transparent has evidently persuaded Eurotunnel to announce that the charges, which take effect from June 2014, will see tolls for the ‘off peak’ period, when most traffic operates, reduce by 25% compared to 2013 levels, with no further increase until at least 2018. Eurotunnel’s ‘ETICA’ incentive scheme is also to be enhanced and extended such that new rail services will see an average overall discount of around 35-40%.

The EU investigation came following lobbying from organisations such as the Rail Freight Group (RFG) and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and to ‘assist’ the Commission with its inquiries, the FTA submitted a report showing that a 40% cut in rail freight tolls would lead to a more than doubling of freight trains through the tunnel. Chris Welsh, FTA’s Director of Global and European Policy said:

“We very much support the statement made by Eurotunnel as this crucially recognises that freight access charges need to be substantially reduced to boost freight traffic through the tunnel. This is great news for shippers, the rail industry and the environment.

“We warmly welcome the European Commission investigation and action taken by the IGC, which has paved the way for these freight charge reductions. Our 2011 report ‘The impact of Eurotunnel tolls on through rail freight’ showed that a 40 per cent cut in rail freight tolls would lead to over a doubling of freight trains through the tunnel and the saving of approximately 250,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

“We now look forward to working with Eurotunnel and its freight management team to promote greater use of the tunnel by shippers as part of FTA’s ongoing campaign to promote rail freight and mode shift.”

The announcement will be of special interest to the members of the Rail Freight Group whose sole aim is to increase the percentage use of freight by rail and Maggie Simpson, RFG Executive Director commented:

“This announcement is good news for rail freight and will help deliver a growth in services through the Channel Tunnel. This offers significant benefits to businesses in the UK seeking efficient, affordable and environmentally sound transport links. We congratulate all parties involved in securing this agreement.”