Tunnel hauliers to pay a premium

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The Independent Online
HAULIERS using the Channel tunnel will pay more than they would on the ferries, according to Christopher Garnett, the commercial director of Le Shuttle, Eurotunnel's shuttle service.

Mr Garnett, speaking yesterday as the equipment that will carry the trucks was tested for the first time, said Le Shuttle was offering a premium service that would save considerable time compared with the ferry journey, as 'it will take only 80 minutes from motorway to autoroute'.

He declined to give details of tariffs as these would be 'negotiated individually with each haulier' and they would depend on level of use and other factors. However the charges would be higher than on the ferries, 'but will be competitive in relation to market conditions'.

The carriers have yet to receive approval from the Tunnel Safety Authority because their aluminium latticework bodies are not totally enclosed.

The safety authority, which is negotiating with Eurotunnel, had asked for the carriers to be totally covered because of fears that a fire would allow smoke to spread through the tunnel.

Mr Garnett said: 'We are confident that they will pass the safety requirements. They are fitted with smoke detectors.'

The tunnel is expected to open in the last quarter of 1993. Eurotunnel hopes that in its first year it will take 9 million tonnes of freight through the tunnel, about 20 per cent of the market.

Each 800m train, built by Breda Fiat, will have carriers for 28 lorries, two engines and a club car for drivers. They would take 12 minutes to load or unload and the journey through the tunnel would take 35 minutes.

All customs would be at the embarking port, allowing traffic to exit without delay.

Initially there will be up to three trains an hour, with at least one train each hour guaranteed, even during slack periods. A fourth train per hour will be introduced at peak times in 1994.

As with the passenger services, there will be no pre-booking.