Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Eurotunnel Invests After Loss of RoRo Freight and Passenger Ferry Business

New Shuttles Will Offer More Cross Channel Services
Shipping News Feature

FRANCE – UK – Despite the blow of having to shed its cross Channel RoRo freight and passenger ferry service MyFerryLink after the recent judgement against it, Groupe Eurotunnel has announced an expansion of its undersea services with the revelation it is purchasing an additional three Freight Shuttles to meet growing demand.

Eurotunnel says that, with the British economy continuing to grow, and cross Channel traffic flows concentrating on the shortest routes as a result of environmental constraints, the market in the Strait of Dover is set to grow over the coming years. In order to reach the target of transporting two million trucks per year in 2020, Eurotunnel feels it is essential to increase capacity.

It is unlikely that no operator will take up the slack, whether or not it chooses to purchase the former SeaFrance assets from Eurotunnel, but if nobody steps into the void UK competition authorities will have produced the very thing they wished to avoid, less competition on the route. Indeed with Eurotunnel increasing capacity investment in an above the waves operation may prove less lucrative, if not positively off putting.

The additions to the fleet will enable Eurotunnel to increase its capacity by 20% and to run up to 8 departures per hour at peak, compared to 6 currently. This immediacy of departure added to the established speed of crossing is a major differentiating factor which will enhance the attraction and the competitiveness of the Eurotunnel service.

The new, €40 million order, has been placed, following a European tender process, with WBN Waggonbrau Niesky GmbH. It is for the construction of three new shuttles, each 800 metres long, with 32 carrying wagons, 3 loader wagons and a carriage to transport the truck drivers. The new shuttles will be built using the latest technology to ensure that energy efficiency and strength are coupled with reliability: they will be fully interoperable with the existing shuttles.

Delivery is set for the end of 2016 and early 2017. The order for three new shuttles is supported by a €30 million programme of investments in the expansion of the terminals in Folkestone and Coquelles which will ensure the fluidity of traffic across the Eurotunnel site. Michel Boudoussier, Chief Operating Officer – Concession of Groupe Eurotunnel observed:

“As the world leader in the rolling motorway industry, Eurotunnel has been able to draw upon its 20 years of experience in the design of these 3rd generation Shuttles. The consultation that we led confirmed that we are at the leading edge of railway development.”