The Channel Tunnel picture by Flickr user jespahjoy
Britain and France plan to reject the European Commission’s request to reduce the charges for passenger and freight trains using the Channel Tunnel.
The Commission said excessively high track-access charges meant for higher ticket prices for Eurostar passengers from London to Paris and linking to Brussels. A spokesperson for the Commission said 43% of the tunnel’s capacity was not being used partly as a result of the high charges.
Eurotunnel currently charges a one-way reservation fee of €4,320 for Eurostar trains and €16.60 per passenger. EU officials claim that if the charges were roughly halved, then the amount of daily freight train services would double and make up the difference.
Under EU law, rail companies can only charge fees consistent with the amount of wear caused by a train journey. However, a Commission investigation claimed charges by Channel Tunnel operators were more than necessary and they were using the income to subsidise the operator’s car shuttle service, which does not pay such charges.
The French transport ministry confirmed that it found the Commission’s grievances unfounded. A spokesperson said: “We will argue that these charges are based on long-term costs – that they include the cost of building the infrastructure and amortising the investment, that they don’t only take into account operational costs and that this is in line with a European directive”.