Latest Rail News


Eurotunnel outlines five obstacles to new cross-Channel freight services

Eurotunnel has called on the government to work with its European counterparts to tackle five obstacles it says are significant barriers to companies seeking to launch new rail freight services through the Channel Tunnel.

Throughout Europe there are different regulations relating to train dimensions, with lengths in Spain being limited to 400m, in Italy it is 500m and Germany 600m, compared to 750m in the UK and France. Eurotunnel says this limits transport capacity with 25% less capacity between Italy and the UK.

In addition Britain’s generalised use of ‘long’ (13.6m) containers are less adaptable to multi-freight wagons that operate across continental Europe.

There are also loading gauge differences between the UK network and Europe. In Britain the gauge is narrower and requires lower wagons than the rest of Europe, which are more expensive and reduce capacity. Eurotunnel figures show this increases transport costs by £235 per train and reduces revenues by 20%.

Eurotunnel has also identified the lack of electrification on rail lines from the Channel Tunnel across Kent and the absence of a rail freight corridor linking Manchester and Birmingham as barriers to further rail freight services.

The Channel Tunnel operator laid out the obstacles to an audience of rail specialists in Lille earlier this month. Despite these issues there has been double-digit growth in cross-Channel rail freight in the third quarter of 2014.

(Image: Euro Tunnel c. Chris Ison/PA Wire)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Jak Jaye   31/10/2014 at 14:14

There used to be a freight link to Manchester,it was called the Great Central but that 'great' industrial vandal Dr Beeching closed it along with other lines that todays TOCs would die for

Lutz   31/10/2014 at 15:11

Sounds like politically-motivated gibberish; there are some half-truths to what is claimed, but is it not the case that Eurotunnel is getting on it's bandstand asking for Governments to fix it's problems while it is loosing business?

George   31/10/2014 at 22:11

Most of these "facts" are simply wrong. Eurotunnel is trying to divert attention away from the true reason that Chunnel rail freight is so low, which is Eurotunnel's charging regime that prices traffic off rail and onto road.

Grahamh   03/11/2014 at 12:41

Jak Jaye is right. The link is still there, in part, but the 'powers that be' seem to do their utmost to render it less and less available (Woodhead tunnel, etc.). There is, additionally, a case for requiring NR to provide routes to Euro gauge from HS1-2 to all major freight centres, to increase rolling stock compatibility and allow through running.

Add your comment


Rail industry Focus

View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

Most Read

'the sleepers' blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >