Saturday, September 28, 2013

Channel Tunnel Squabble over Freight and Passenger Transit Rates Enters a New Phase

Governments Will Reject EU Accusations says Eurotunnel Boss
Shipping News Feature

FRANCE – UK – The threat of action against the two countries governments for excessive track access charges which the EU Commission made in June of this year has apparently produced a snub according to reports quoting the CEO of Channel Tunnel operator Groupe Eurotunnel. Details of the case can be seen in our article at the time but both freight and passenger costs are said to be too high because of the rates imposed.

Under the original agreement, only an amount equating to reasonable maintenance charges are allowable but the EU considers that the way the money is used means that the car shuttle service is being subsidised by freight and Eurostar passenger services which are charging more than necessary causing these services to be grossly underused.

Now the Eurotunnel boss, Jacques Gounon, says he met with ministers from both France and Britain to discuss the matter and the joint response from the authorities was an outright rejection of the proposal to lower the levy. Neither government was prepared to respond to questions yesterday, and the matter will now presumably be kicked back to the EU to see what, if any, action they will take to resolve things.

Meanwhile Eurotunnel continues on with the running of its controversial ferry service, MyFerryLink, which the governments and rival ferry operators say gives the Channel Tunnel operator an unfair amount of the France – UK traffic. As we pointed out in some detail in another June piece, this will come to a head at the end of this year when technically it will be illegal for the service to continue. Eurotunnel’s argument in this case is that, by restricting their right to carry passengers at cut rates on their ferry services the UK and other Competition Commissions would be doing exactly the opposite of their raison d’être, that is reducing the amount of services on the busy route.