Eurotunnel in row over cross-Channel trade

Tunnel operator's claim to market share attacked as fiction

Eurotunnel, the Channel tunnel operator, increased the pressure on ferry companies last month with the number of passengers using its Le Shuttle service reaching record levels.

But the claimed 22.5 per cent rise in traffic was still far below the company's own forecasts, and will increase concern among its bankers as they prepare for another round of talks about Eurotunnel's pounds 8bn of debts. Ferry companies reacted with astonishment to figures, with P&O calling Eurotunnel's claim to have captured 33 per cent of the cross-Channel market "complete fiction".

Le Shuttle carried 112,060 cars in July, and 2,402 coaches, achieving a daily traffic record of 4,965 cars on 29 July. But Eurotunnel counts each coach as equivalent to five cars. This allows Eurotunnel to claim a total car equivalent of 124,070 cars month, a 22.5 per cent rise on June. Le Shuttle freight trains did better, carrying 37,126 lorries in July, 13.7 per cent more than in June.

P&O said the way Eurotunnel calculated its tourist figures was absurd. A spokesman said: "Either you took cars or you took coaches. Ferry companies do not attempt to flatter their figures in this way."

He said Eurotunnel's claim to have taken more than one-third of the Dover- Calais market in July was not borne out by the figures published yesterday by cross-Channel operators.

According to its calculations P&O had 40.4 per cent of the market, Stena 13.6 per cent, SNAT 13.6 per cent, Hoverspeed 6.4 per cent and Eurotunnel 26 per cent. Competition for business has been fierce, with passengers benefiting from a string of cut price deals. But, as our table shows, Le Shuttle is among the most expensive ways to cross the Channel.

The Dover-Calais market has grown by about 20 per cent, and the ferry companies believe the bulk of Le Shuttle passengers have been absorbed by that increase. P&O carried 177,659 cars and 12,998 coaches on its Dover- Calais route in July, marginally down on the same month in 1994. Last year Eurotunnel was working on forecasts that it would achieve a rate of 6,800 cars a day for 1995, carrying an estimated 11 million passengers.

Michael Cohen, an analyst with Salomon Brothers, called July's figures disappointing. "They are going to have to make a real effort to get the tourist figures up for next year."

City analysts have long felt that Eurotunnel would not meet these forecasts, and are looking to what the company might say about next year's estimates when they meet bankers in the autumn. The negotiations are about the banks agreeing loans to finance the company beyond October, without which Eurotunnel will collapse and probably be taken over by the banking syndicate.

Meanwhile, the high-speed Eurostar train service had a good month, despite breakdowns, including one this week involving members of the Saudi royal family.

The total number trains from London to Paris and Brussels was 851, compared with 730 in June. This took the Eurostar total so far this year to 3,952.

Dover-Calais for two adults and two children

Prices for Friday to Sunday this weekend.

P and O pounds 92: Tariff D depart Friday 01.00-05.45 or 23.00-23.59

return Sunday 01.00-09.45 or 22.00-23.15

pounds 120: Tariff C depart Friday 06.30-08.00 or 17.45-22.15

return Sunday 11.45-13.30 or 20.15-21.45

pounds 135.20: Tariff B depart Friday 08.45-17.00

return Sunday 14.15-18.45

Sealink pounds 122: depart 07.00-19.00

pounds 91: depart 21.00-07.00

Hoverspeed pounds 169: depart 06.00-07.00/19.00-21.00

pounds 188: depart 07.00-19.00/21.00-06.00

Eurotunnel pounds 169: depart 06.00-18.00

pounds 115: depart 18.00-06.00

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?