Groupe Eurotunnel Drives Cross Channel Freight Development

GB Railfreight opens first Daventry to Italy (Novarro) service

Container shipper, DFDS, is one of the first to sign a contract with GBRf and Europorte Channel to haul a mixed goods multi-modal train from Daventry through the Channel Tunnel to France and then on to Novarro in Northern Italy. The train will initially run three days a week.

Since Group Eurotunnel acquired GB Railfreight (GBRf) for its Europorte subsidiary in May 2010, restructuring and contract negotiations have been running side by side.

John Smith, GB Railfreight Managing Director has now also been given responsibility for the management of Europorte Channel and has put in place a team, headed by Kevin Walker, Operations Director of Europorte Channel, supported by Neil Crossland, Commercial Director, who have taken on responsibility for developing rail freight services through the Channel Tunnel. The combination of GBRf and Europorte Channel means that the Group can now provide a one-stop shop for hauliers wishing to send goods by rail from the UK through the Channel Tunnel to France and beyond.

GBRf hauled the first train from Daventry to Dollands Moor with 66731, the first of the fleet to be branded with the new GBRf/Europorte logos. At Dollands Moor the loco was changed for Class 92 92028, now owned by Europorte Channel, and hauled through the Channel Tunnel to Frethun, France, at 120kph, overnight between Monday 10 January and Tuesday 11 January 2011.

Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive of Groupe Eurotunnel SA, stated,

"Bringing GB Railfreight into the Eurotunnel Group was intended to give us a foothold in the UK rail freight market and help us boost the growth of rail freight through the Channel Tunnel.

John Smith is the right person to drive this market for us and this first contract for GB Railfreight and Europorte Channel is just the start of what we can achieve."


John Smith continued,

"The combination of GB Railfreight and Europorte Channel gives us a fabulous opportunity to develop rail freight services between Great Britain and continental Europe. It is a huge market with great potential. The rail freight product offers so much to hauliers in terms of volumes, value for money and environmental benefits. GBRf’s well-known qualities of reliability, customer service and innovation are perfectly suited to this challenge”.



Until 2086, Eurotunnel (Euronext Paris: GET and London Stock Exchange: GETS) manages the infrastructure of the Channel Tunnel and operates accompanied truck shuttle and passenger shuttle (car and coach) services between Folkestone, UK and Calais, France. Eurotunnel holds the concession to operate the Channel Tunnel, the fastest, most reliable, easiest and most environmentally friendly way to cross the Channel. In 15 years, nearly 250 million people have used the Channel Tunnel. This unique land crossing has become a vital link between the continent and the United Kingdom. Europorte, Eurotunnel’s 100% owned subsidiary, was created with the twin objectives of optimising the group’s railway know how and of providing its customers with a range of services designed to encourage the development of rail freight traffic.


GB Railfreight is the third largest rail freight operator in the UK. Groupe Eurotunnel acquired GBRf from Firstgroup at the end of May 2010. GBRf wide ranging business portfolio includes intermodal services; bulk traffic, including coal; infrastructure materials; rail industry service; construction materials; petrochemicals and metals; general commodities as well as mail and parcels.


Europorte Channel is the first operator - apart from SNCF- to be granted a licence authorising it to develop rail services throughout the European Union. Europorte Channel (previously Europorte 2) began operations on 28 November 2007. Europorte Channel is a key link in the intention of Groupe Eurotunnel to develop cross-Channel rail freight by offering the same quality and ease of service which have proven successful with the Shuttle business. Europorte Channel also offers integrated "cross-Channel" solutions which also includes traction of trains on British soil.