Le Shuttle compromise wins cross-Channel name debate

After probably the toughest Anglo-French wrangle since the French managed to get an 'e' added to the Concorde aircraft, Eurotunnel has finally disclosed that its Channel tunnel service for cars and passengers will be known as Le Shuttle.

The name 'Le Shuttle', a ghastly linguistic compromise that seems certain to incur the wrath of the Academie Francaise, has taken 18 months of intensive Anglo-French discussion to produce and cost more than pounds 500,000.

Alternative names including Dart and Laser were discarded in favour of Le Shuttle because market research discovered it was a name that could be easily understood in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The Le Shuttle logo is a sort of tick - intended to symbolise speed, according to Eurotunnel - which has similarities to the logos of Nike sportswear and Sure deodorant. Presumably no comparisons are intended.

The announcement of Le Shuttle's name and logo is the first step in an intensive marketing campaign aimed at raising public awareness of the cross-Channel service which is due to open in September or October next year.

Research has shown that there is widespread confusion about how the Channel tunnel will operate: one survey last year revealed that a large percentage of people believed they could drive through - others were convinced they would have to walk.

Eurotunnel's commercial director, Christopher Garnett, said that Le Shuttle services between Folkestone and Calais for passengers, cars, coaches and lorries will initially operate four times an hour. If demand increases, shuttle services could operate every six minutes.

Mr Garnett said that the total motorway to motorway journey between England and France should take about an hour - compared to at least 2 hours 15 minutes for a ferry crossing.

During the journey, which will take 35 minutes, car passengers will have to remain in the shuttle coach with their cars. Car radios can be tuned to a Le Shuttle radio service which will offer en route information.

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