Eurostar News Update: Fares May Be Reduced
Eurostar news update: Britain & France may face court action if they do not decrease the charges for passengers and freight trains using the Channel Tunnel.
“The Commission said the illegally high track access charges result in higher ticket prices for passengers of the high-speed Eurostar service linking London with Paris and Brussels.
Both countries have been given two months to respond to the request.
A spokesman for the Commission said today: ‘Passengers are paying over the odds for their tickets, freight operators and their customers are being overcharged, and overall the current regime is stifling growth in the rail sector.’
She added the high charges meant only 43 per cent of the tunnel’s capacity was used.
Tunnel operator Eurotunnel charges a reservation fee of 4,320 euros one way for Eurostar trains and 16.60 euros per passenger.
EU officials said the charges should be roughly half that amount.
EU officials said if the charges were lower, the tunnel could make up the difference through increased freight traffic, forecasting a doubling of the amount of daily freight trains.
Under EU law, rail companies are only allowed to charge fees consistent with the amount of wear caused by a train journey.
But the officials said the Commission investigation found operators of the Channel Tunnel were charging more than necessary and using the income to subsidise the operator’s car shuttle service, which does not pay such charges.
Officials said the tunnel had sought an exception to levy higher access charges to pay construction costs. They said the investigation did not find evidence to support this, and noted that Eurotunnel’s financing costs declined significantly after a write-off in 2007.
In addition to access charges, Commission regulators found that a 65-year usage agreement that reserves 50 percent of traffic for French national rail operator Societe Nationale de Chemins de Fer and Germany’s DB Schenker, a unit of Deutsche Bahn, violated EU rules because of its length.
The tunnel’s own rail regulator is also too weak, they said, and the railway operators have too much control.”
Access between the two countries has been made infinitely easier since the tunnel was constructed but charges such as these put a strain on the international relationship which defeats the object entirely. With two months for the two countries to respond, it looks like these proceedings will take a little while to reach a conclusion.
This article was originally sourced from www.dailymail.co.uk, if you have any enquiries for the travel company, contact the Eurostar helpline and speak with a member of their customer services department.
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