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Eurotunnel operator offers cash to attract new cross-channel services

Eurotunnel locomotive
Eurotunnel locomotive Copyright Jacky Lannoy / Eurotunnel/Getlink
Copyright Jacky Lannoy / Eurotunnel/Getlink
By Doloresz Katanich
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Getlink says that there is capacity for 2.5 times more trains to use the Channel Tunnel on a daily basis.

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The operator of the Channel Tunnel, Getlink, has offered €50 million to encourage more companies to launch new cross-Channel rail services to rival Eurostar, according to the Financial Times. 

The French company, formerly called Groupe Eurotunnel, manages and operates the infrastructure of the Channel Tunnel as well as LeShuttle passenger and freight trains. It has long been advocating for more operators to launch services as it sees significant growth potential for cross-Channel rail services.

The chief executive of Getlink, Yann Leriche, told the FT: "We have a lot of room, including at peak time. I think there is potential to have more high speed trains and freight trains."

Leriche told the Financial Times that he believes that the tunnel has the capacity for 1,000 trains a day but that currently it is only used by around 400.

According to Leriche, at least five companies have expressed a serious interest in launching new passenger train services, including Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, a Dutch start-up Heuro, and Evolyn, a Spanish-led project backed by the billionaire Cosmen industrialist family, an investor in the British multinational public transport company Mobico.

The FT reports that a €50 million cash incentive will be offered by Getlink over the next five years to encourage new operators and is aimed at offsetting the initial high costs. 

Launching a new passenger train service has long been seen as complicated and costly, for example, due to the need to use modified trains that comply with the Tunnel's stringent safety rules, among others reasons. 

According to Leriche some of the biggest hurdles have been cleared and costs have been lowered after Alstom’s new TGV trains were certified to run through the tunnel. 

The operator has high hopes that, on top of Eurostar’s current routes from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, there is demand for four million passenger journeys from Germany and Switzerland.

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