Channel tunnel services delayed by safety checks

THE OPENING of the channel tunnel for both passenger and freight services has been delayed again because Eurotunnel has fallen behind with commissioning tests.

Eurotunnel had planned to start its shuttle service for lorries on 7 March but the equipment is not yet ready to be tested by the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority for obtaining a certificate.

This service is now unlikely to start before April with Le Shuttle road freight services 'building up during the weeks prior to 6 May'.

The delay will have a knock- on effect on the passenger shuttle which had been expected to start on 8 May, two days after the tunnel's formal opening by the Queen and President Mitterrand.

A statement by Eurotunnel said that although the 'structure of the system is sound and no fundamental problem has emerged', several commissioning tests have to be repeated because first attempts had failed. All equipment on the 50km long tunnel has had to undergo a series of stringent tests to ensure safety. There have also been additional delays in getting the locomotives ready for operation.

Eurotunnel is offering refunds to people who have bought tickets intending to travel in May.

Eurotunnel is unwilling to give a new date for when services will start because 'we don't want there to be any more delays'. However, the latest setback is a further embarrassment to the troubled company which is due to seek another pounds 1bn in financing in the spring. This will bring the total cost to pounds 10bn, twice the original estimate needed to tide it over while business builds up in the early years.

Richard Hannah, of UBS Phillips & Drew, said the delay would cost Eurotunnel up to pounds 50m for each summer month which is lost. 'This is quite serious and will have a knock-on effect for many years. It will make it more difficult when Eurotunnel seeks its extra financing.'

The tunnel was originally supposed to open in May last year but stringent safety requirements, hold-ups in delivery of rolling stock and a lengthy dispute with the tunnel's contractors, Transmanche Link, all contributed to delays.

Through freight trains, run by the BR subsidiary Railfreight Distribution, had also been expected to start on 7 March and a spokesman said: 'We were ready to start and are deeply disappointed. We are seeking an urgent meeting with Eurotunnel.'

Eurostar passenger trains between London, Paris and Brussels are to be launched later in the summer but no firm date has yet been set because of concern over deliveries of the rolling stock.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own