Eurotunnel reports drop in car numbers

THE number of cars using the Channel Tunnel last year fell by three per cent.

Eurotunnel said the fall coincided with a reduction in capacity - down by a fifth - and that this had prompted a rise in load factors.

Annual figures from the French-run company, which has seen its share price plunge in recent days, were generally flat.

However, there was a glimmer of optimism in a generally low-key assessment in that Shuttle revenues - up four per cent to £295million - had risen for the first time since 2002.

Total revenue edged up by one per cent to £541million.

The companyalso revealed it had shed more than 600 jobs from its offices in Cheriton and Coquelles, Calais.

Just over eight million shuttle passengers travelled through the Tunnel last year, plus a further 7.5million people on Eurostar high-speed trains.

Under a new strategy, Eurotunnel aims to boost margins and profitability rather than volumes and market share.

Truck traffic went up by just two per cent, although yield improved. Coach traffic rose by 22 per cent.

Eurotunnel carried 2,047,166 cars, 1,308,786 trucks and 77,267 coaches.

Income from railways was level at £235million, including a £72million payment under the Minimum Usage Charge agreement which is only in force until the end of November.

Rail freight tonnage carried by EWS and SNCF fell by 16 per cent.

Eurotunnel, EWS and the SNCF are setting up a working group to look at ways of boosting rail freight through the Tunnel.

Revenue from non-transport activities such as land sales also fell.

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