Eurotunnel

Sorry, this page is no longer being updated.
But you can read news from 1999 about Eurostar here and Eurotunnel here.

Official Websites:
eurostar.co.uk runs the passenger trains
www.eurotunnel.com owns the tunnel; see their stock ticker

Turnover at Eurotunnel was 57% in the second quarter of this year, compared to the first. (August 12th, 1998)

FT.comBoth Eurotunnel and Eurostar are increasing efforts to sell gift items in their trains and terminals. By July 1999, it will no longer be legal to import goods tax free from another EU country. Eurostar operates the trains with the same name, while Eurotunnel owns and operates the tunnel and the shuttle trains which ferry cars and trucks. (July 26th, 1998)

FT.comThe Chunnel Rail Link is still in limbo following two deadline extensions. Deputy prime minister John Prescott has already given two extensions to the London & Continental Railways consortium - the promoter of the 5.4bn project - to come up with proposals to complete the 68-mile link, which will cut 35 minutes off journey times from London to Paris and Brussels. But he has warned that LCR, which is now backed by Railtrack, will be given no extra time and that he expects to see its detailed proposals by mid-May. (April 30th, 1998)

A freight corridor from Britain's Midlands to the Chunnel is a good idea, Central Railway believes. Once they find the required 5 billion, they will build it. The new railroad would connect the port of Liverpool, Manchester and London with the European continent via the Chunnel. (April 20th, 1998)

Liability for possible terrorist incidents is holding back freight operators from sending small shipments through the Chunnel by rail, the Alliance for Channel Tunnel Railfreight says. This is because they are required to certify there is no explosive in the consignment. This rule applies only to companies that use "aggregators", which group small shipments into full container loads. Similar security regulations do not apply to shipments by ferry or by trucks using the tunnel's "shuttle" train service. (April 11th, 1998)

Arson caused the Chunnel fire on November 19th 1996, says the prosecutor, Mr Gerald Lesigne. (April 5th, 1998)

Railtrack and LCR are co-operating in the rescue of the Chunnel rail link. Railtrack would buy the link once it was completed, with the exception of the last bit into London. The plan has until May 29th to be financed; after that, bidding may be re-opened. (March 29th, 1998, more here)

Eurostar may be taken over by British Airways and National Express, the bus- and now also train operating company. The Eurostar trains, connecting London with Brussels and Paris, are suffering from fierce competition on price from airlines and from ferry companies on the English Channel. Virgin is also interested in Eurostar.

Editor's note: British Airways is a major trans-continental airline. Their possible entry into the HSR business, together with the buss company, should convince even more people of the superiority of HSR over distances of less than 1000 km. (March 14th, 1998, more here and here)

LCR gets a second chance at building the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, the government has decided. London & Continental, the consortium that all but gave up hope of finding private money for the link a month ago, will now raise money against the value of 11 Eurostar trains owned by the government. (February 26th, 1998, more here and here)

Eurotunnel made an operating profit last year of 57m against a 35m loss in 1996. Turnover rose 14 percent to 531m. Reuters quotes Eurotunnel chairman Patrick Ponsolle as saying "We believe that a new rail link between London and the Channel Tunnel is absolutely necessary not only for the long-term future of Eurotunnel...but also for the U.K. economy to be connected to the Continent,'' commenting on the company's position. (February 17th, 1998, more here)

The bill for the Chunnel Link crisis could reach 900m and taxpayers will foot the lot of it, depending on how much of the liabilities are assumed by the next consortium to take over the project. Three will be submitting bids; Railtrack and Eurorail are two of them. (February 16th, 1998, more here)

Eurorail has a new team looking at the possibilities for building the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Any bidding will not start untill the beginning of March at the earliest. (February 13th, 1998, more here)

A cheaper Chunnel rail link has been suggested by Railtrack. It would involve constructing new track to Southfleet, Kent, and then using existing track to Waterloo. But this would halve the time saving for travelers, and Railtrack's shareholders are sceptical, as can be seen by the share price. (February 11th 1998, more here)

The Chunnel rail link is unnecessary at the moment, since existing railways are only used to half capacity by passenger volume and tonnage, the government's advisers say. This fact is thought to have strengthened the government against pleas for more subsidy from the builder, LCR. LCR has not found money to build the link.

Editor's note: The half-capacity argument is almost irrelevant. The important things are a) how jammed up things are during rush hour, ie on-time performance; and b) how fast the trains can make it to London. (February 7th, 1998, more here)

Railtrack won't get any regulatory concessions in return for taking over the building of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott says. One idea for rescuing the link is to separate the operation of the loss-amking Eurostar trains from the building of the link. Several British TOCs have shown interest in running the trains. See also below. Also, Eurorail says it is keen to bid again to build the link. (February 6th, 1998, more here)

Chunnel High-Speed Link Endangered

The Chunnel link crisis has turned into a free-for-all with companies scrambling to position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities. Virgin Rail and National Express, both part of the London & Continental Railways consortium, want to leave LCR and instead join the competing Eurorail consortium. Railtrack hopes to get a more favorable regulatory environment from the government concerning railways and the London Underground. This would be in return for Railtrack taking over the building of the link.

John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, says that if LCR doesn't come up with something in its 30-day grace period, there would be a "re-bidding situation". The Financial Times also writes that there have been suggestions by industry insiders that the building of the link should be separated from the running of the Eurostar trains as the latter are doing unexpectedly poorly in financial terms.

Meanwhile, the Belgian and French state railways have lamented the state of affairs, noting that a loss of potential Eurostar passengers, resulting from the slow passage of the trains though England, also affects negatively the profitability of their links, which are all but complete. (February 2nd 1998, source: Financial Times Transport news)

Railtrack and Eurorail are companies named which may get involved in the rescue of the Chunnel high speed rail link (see below). However the concession-holder LCR says that private money can't be found and so Railtrack, the owner of the British rail network, and Eurorail, a consortium that lost against LCR to build the link, may get involved after the concession has been taken over by government. LCR had expected to generate more money from the Eurostar trains and finance the link that way. But the Eurostar trains are loosing 180m annually and won't break even before the year 2001, LCR says. The graphics-intensive Eurostar site has info on the Channel Tunnel Link and London & Continental Railways. (January 30th, 1998, more here)

The Chunnel rail link may well be nationalized since the concession-holder to build it, London & Continental Railways, says they cannot find financing. LCR asked the British government for a 3bn subsidy, which they didn't get.

"As a result, they have now informed me [Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott] that they would not be able to attract project finance from the debt and equity markets as planned," and "they could not fulfil their obligations under the agreement," Mr Prescott is quoted as saying in the Financial Times. The government has now given LCR a 30-day period to find a solution to the problem; if the government isn't satisfied it will take over the concession. FT says this may mean that there will not be any high-speed link to the Chunnel. LCR also owns the British stake in the Eurostar services. (January 29th, 1998, more here)

The British and French governments have agreed with Eurotunnel to extend its lease. The deal was quite complicated and took six months to close. (January 1998, more here)

A Glasgow - Channel tunnel upgrade intended for piggyback may take as many as 400 000 trucks per year off the roads. Railtrack is spending 220m on widening tunnels and raising bridges. Railtrack is spending another 2bn to rais passenger train speeds. (December 30th 1997, more here)

The Channel Tunnel Rail Link from London to the tunnel may be in trouble, judging by the fact that Eurorail, which lost the contract for building the CTRL, has written to the British government saying that it wants to be kept informed on any renegotiating of the CTRL deal with London & Continental Railways. The Financial Times writes that "the industry is awash with rumours the project has run into problems". (November 12th 1997, more here)

The multi-party deal around Eurotunnel has still not come together. The British government wants France to allow British train operators to be allowed to operate trains from the Chunnel to points in France, without using SNCF's services. France says this is governed by EU law and no further provisions are necessary. Freight train operator EWS has agreed with the British government to pay back grants if more access through the tunnel can be secured, but Britain now seems to have widened demands from tunnel access to access all over France. (November 10th 1997, more here)

Eurotunnel's lengthened operating concession, which still hasn't been granted despite a preliminary deal in June, may be traded for lower rail freight rates. A deal involving several companies and authorities may be at hand. (October 9th 1997, more here)

Eurotunnel's 99-year lease may be in danger just months after it was extended from 65 years. The British government wants Eurotunnel to run more freight trains, and short of this, a bigger share of Eurotunnel profits. Profits for the first six months 97 were about 8 million, according to Ny Teknik. (September 23rd 1997, more here)

There won't be any night trains through the Chunnel, London & Continental Railways has announced. Problems with the power supply seem to have proved insurmountable. The future for the 139 new Eurostar-sleepers is unclear. LCR also announced it is to be listed on the London stock exchange, and that it will be profitable even if fewer than 10 million passengers per year use the service, which earlier was said to be the break-even point. The trains had 525 000 passengers in June, which corresponds to a yearly volume of 6 million. (July 17th 1997)

Eurotunnel's extraordinary shareholders' meeting on Thursday July 10th voted to approve the restructuring plan announced in April. The concession will be lengthened from 65 years to 99 and the banks will take over half of the shares. The share price rose this month as a conditions to the plan fell in place. (July 13th 1997)

Eurotunnel's demand for a lengthened concession to 100 years may be refused by the new British government. A restructuring of the company (see below) depends on this; if shareholders don't accept the restructuring plan at meeting July 11th, bankruptcy will be the consequence, analysts say. (June 30th 1997)

Eurotunnel will make a profit in the year 2006 if shareholders approve yet another restructuring plan, which asks them to give half their shares to the banks. The profit could also be delayed if Eurotunnel's concession is not lengthened past it's current 65 years. Passenger traffic is expected to double to over 20 million passengers next year. (May 30th 1997, thanx UF)

Eurotunnel has got permission to run the lorry trains through the Chunnel. Trials begin with empty trains, then with non-paying volunteers and finally commercial service on June 15th. The safety commission may delay the start of commercial service if the trials do not go over as planned; the start of services has already been delayed two weeks. (May 28th 1997)

Eurotunnel did not get approval from the Anglo-French safety commission for it's new security measures for lorry trains, following the fire last fall. A new decision may be taken on Thursday. The new safety measures include constant surveillance by fire monitoring teams, installation of sprinklers, and modifications to the open-lattice cars. Eurotunnel had hoped to start free lorry trains last Wednesday to lure back customers. The Eurostar and long-distance freight services are showing strong gains. (May 17th/12th 1997)

Arson caused the Chunnel fire, hints an official French inquiry. An article in the Financial Times notes that Eurotunnel staff were demonstrating against redundancies at the time, and that French lorry drivers involved in a separate dispute were also present. The report is to be published next week. (May 17th 1997)

Eurotunnel wants its lease extended to 999 years, citing the fact that London & Continental Railways has a lease that long on the high-speed link to the tunnel. Eurotunnel wants some of it's debtholders to become shareholders, and an extended lease would encourage them to swap debt for equity. If the deal goes through, Eurotunnel estimates that the first dividend will be payed out before 2010. Analysts say that the banks have more to gain from this deal than shareholders do. (April 29th 1997)

Freight traffic in the Chunnel will be restored in June. It has been suspended since last fall when a lorry started a fire, and now all lorries will be checked before they are loaded onto trains. The English, Welsh & Scottish Railway will be operating the trains, after having bought Railfreight Distribution which ran the trains before the fire. (April 4th 1997)

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