New Channel tunnel delay hits shares

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The Independent Online
SHARES in Eurotunnel plunged yesterday after a report that the Channel tunnel would not open for passengers until September, missing crucial summer holiday traffic.

The shares ended 29p lower at 561p after the French newspaper La Voix du Nord said technical problems were causing further delays in the start of car shuttle services.

If the tunnel does not open for passengers until September, Eurotunnel could lose most of the pounds 119m in shuttle revenues forecast for this year, putting further pressure on its finances.

Eurotunnel first said the report was 'pure speculation' and then described it as 'not accurate' but declined to give a starting date for either freight or passenger services.

The company later issued a statement saying that the state opening of the tunnel would go ahead on 6 May but that it did not now expect to start carrying coaches until the first quarter of 1995.

Freight services had been due to start on 7 March and passenger services on 8 May. In February Eurotunnel announced that freight services would be delayed, with a possible knock-on effect for passenger shuttles.

'The delays are likely to be weeks rather than months,' a spokeswoman said yesterday. 'We are sticking by that.'