The European Commission says the charges for passenger and freight trains using the Channel Tunnel are excessive and it wants them cut.
The operator – Eurotunnel – charges a fee of 4,320 euros – one way – for every Eurostar train and up to 16.60 euros for each passenger. Freight trains are charged at least 3,645 euros per crossing.
The EU officials said those fees are illegally high and should be roughly half that amount.
Helen Kearns, the Commission’s spokeswoman for transport, said: “Because of the excessive charges in the Channel Tunnel, passengers are paying over the odds for their tickets, freight operators and their customers are being overcharged.”
The Commission believes any reduction in revenues from lower charges should be offset by a rise in usage of the tunnel
The spokeswoman said the high access charges are stifling growth in the rail sector: “Forty three percent of capacity in the Channel Tunnel is currently not used, and more freight is being carried across Europe on lorries instead of by rail, causing congestion and pollution.”
Brussels has given France and Britain two months to respond to a request to lower the charges or face possible court action.
Eurotunnel – which is a private company, but overseen by the UK and French governments through a regulator – denied its track access charges are excessive.
On the Paris bourse, Eurotunnel share were down 10.7 percent at the end of the session on Thursday.