Following the double digit growth in cross-Channel rail freight in the third quarter of 2014, Eurotunnel outlined the five most significant barriers to companies seeking to launch new rail freight services, to an audience of rail specialists, in Lille, on 9 October:
- Differences in train dimensions: In Italy, the length of trains is limited to 500m, in Spain it is 400m and in Germany 600m compared to 750m in France and the UK, thereby limiting transport capacity (25% less capacity between Italy and the UK)
- Gauge differences: the gauge of the UK network is narrower and requires lower wagons than the rest of Europe. These wagons are more expensive and have a reduced capacity. This increases transport costs by €300 per train and reduces revenues by 20%.
- The generalised use of “long” (13.6m) containers, which are less adaptable to “multi-freight” wagons, across continental Europe
- The lack of electrification on lines from the Channel Tunnel across Kent The absence of a rail freight corridor linking Manchester and Birmingham
Buoyed by this demonstration of support, Eurotunnel is calling on the governments to take the measures necessary at every step of the process to put more freight onto rail and to help develop clean and sustainable cross-Channel transport.