Eurotunnel today committed to cut charges by up to 50% with effect from June 2014. This is expected to boost cross-channel rail freight to double today's levels in five years. Tolls for the ‘off peak’ period, when most traffic operates, reduce by 25% compared to 2013 levels, with no further increase until at least 2018. Eurotunnel’s ETICA (Eurotunnel Incentive for Capacity Additions) scheme is also to be enhanced and extended such that new rail services will see an average overall discount of around 35-40%.

The Channel Tunnel is not being used to capacity, and a major reason for that is high track access charges. As a result, more freight is being carried on lorries, instead of by rail, and the high charges paid by freight operators can be passed onto their customers.

Currently only seven rail freight trains run through the tunnel each day on average, while there is 43% unused capacity. Rail freight companies complain that excessive track access charges and other mandatory charges make it uneconomic to use the Tunnel.

The commitment by Eurotunnel comes as a response to the legal investigation opened by the European Commission against France and the UK for their failure to implement European rules on access to infrastructure in the Channel Tunnel.

Maggie Simpson, Rail Freight Group Executive Director said today, ‘This announcement is good news for rail freight and will help deliver a growth in services through the Channel Tunnel. This offers significant benefits to businesses in the UK seeking efficient, affordable and environmentally sound transport links. We congratulate all parties involved in securing this agreement.'

Eurotunnel press release

European Commission press release

Rail Freight Group press release