Car fares will be pegged to ferry charges

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The Independent Online
FARES for the car shuttle through the tunnel will initially be pegged to those of the cross-Channel ferry operators, Christopher Garnett, Eurotunnel's commercial director, said yesterday.

He announced that prices would be published in October in time for the 1994 holiday season bookings. 'Prices would have to be broadly in line with the ferry operators,' he said. 'If we charged less they would simply respond by cutting their prices, and if we tried to charge more we would lose business since our product is still something of an unknown in the market.'

Even though there is no firm opening date, Eurotunnel is to launch its information campaign at a travel agents' conference in Majorca later this month.

On freight charges, Mr Garnett said that negotiations would begin with hauliers only three months before the tunnel's opening date.

It is expected that Eurotunnel's charges would be higher than the ferry companies' because of the time saving, but the gap has been closing because of improvements in customs and check-in procedures at Dover.

Mr Garnett said that P&O and Stena Sealink, the two ferry companies operating on the Dover to Calais route, had 'done rather better than we had expected in reducing their throughput times'.

Eurotunnel would not say how much of the market it initially expects, but by 1996 it hopes to have 50 per cent of the car market and 80 per cent of passengers travelling between London and Paris or Brussels. They will use Eurostar trains, to be operated by a consortium of the three national rail companies.