Memorandum by English Welsh & Scottish
Railway (EWS) and English Welsh & Scottish Railway International
(EWSI) (CHT 09)
RAIL FREIGHT AND THE CHANNEL TUNNEL
1.1 EWS and its associated international
rail freight company EWSI welcome the opportunity to offer written
evidence to the Transport Sub-Committee's inquiry into Rail Freight
and the Channel Tunnel. In this submission we refer to EWS but
this should be taken to include EWSI.
1.2 EWS is Britain's leading rail freight
operator, hauling over 100 millions tonnes of freight and moving
over 21 billion net-tonne kilometres of freight per annum, equivalent
to more than nine million lorry journeys. Since 1995, EWS has
invested some £750 million in new rolling stock, equipment
and systems and together with that from other parts of the rail
freight industry the total commitment in rail freight from private
sector sources is roundly £1 billion. This investment is
continuing and-along with supportive Government transport and
land-use planning policies-has helped rail freight to grow by
50% over the last six years. Growth has been particularly strong
in the domestic freight market.
1.3 Rail's share of the UK surface freight
market (ie, road + rail) has risen from less than 7% to 11%. Latest
data shows that traffic grew by nearly 9% in 2001-02, making the
rail freight industry well placed to meet the Government's target
of 80% growth by 2010. This will help to reduce the impact of
road congestion on the UK economy and environment. A strong Channel
Tunnel rail freight industry is a fundamental part of the rail
and broader transport priorities of the Government and the European
1.4 The Transport Act 2000 gives the Strategic
Rail Authority (SRA) a specific duty to promote international
services via the Channel Tunnel and the SRA's Freight Strategy
states (page 36) that the international market:
"represents at the same time the greatest
single opportunity to increase rail's market share and the most
difficult problem to address. The aim of the Strategy is to realise
the potential of the market and to facilitate the establishment
of sustainable international services between the regions of the
UK and continental destinations via the Channel Tunnel".
1.5 The SRA's strategic plan (page 31) states
that the SRA must publish a strategy "relating to services
in various parts of Great Britain for facilitating the carriage
of passengers and goods by rail by way of the Channel Tunnel".
However the plan also states that:
"The recent disturbances in Channel
Tunnel freight services because of concerns about illegal immigration
to the UK have affected the confidence of the freight market and
the SRA is working closely with Government and the industry to
1.6 The European Commission in its Transport
White paper and Second Railway Package places growth in rail freight
in general, and international rail freight in particular, at the
centre of its transport policy.
1.7 Despite these national and international
objectives the last six months have seen international rail freight
services using the Channel Tunnel brought to the point of collapse.
The laudable objectives for Channel Tunnel rail freight have been
undermined by the lack of action by the French authorities to
provide proper security at the Fréthun freight yard near
Calais. This has resulted in the enforced cancellation of services
and damage to goods by asylum seekers. Many customers have been
forced to switch to other modes. Unless immediate corrective action
is taken the future of international rail freight services will
be in great danger.
2.1 EWS's international rail freight business
has three distinct segments all of which have been adversely affected
by the current problems:
Intermodal customers include Combined Transport
Limited (CTL), ICF, Unilog, CNC and Transfesa. Users of conventional
wagon services include agents such as Rainbow Rail, Physical Distribution
and Freight Europe UK, but also block train buyers such as Guinness
UDV in the drinks sector and StoraEnso in the reeled paper sector,
whilst Automotive industry customers are Ford Motor Company and
Jaguar through their agent STVA Group and Peugeot/Citroen through
its subsidiary Gefco. However, the disruption affects all parties
involved in the business such as logistics providers, terminal
operators, including Tibbett and Britten and wagon suppliers.
Continental railways such as SNCF, Italian Railways (FS), Belgian
Railways (SNCB) and German Railways (DB) are also suffering losses.
3. SUMMARY OF
3.1 In November 2001 the French National
railways (SNCF) were forced to restrict the number of Channel
Tunnel rail freight services operating as a result of asylum seekers
repeatedly invading the freight yard at Fréthun. During
normal operation EWS would expect to operate between 15 and 20
import trains each day of the week. A similar number of export
trains would also operate. SNCF's restrictions mean that between
seven and zero trains operate each night which means that during
the last six months over 3,300 Channel Tunnel rail freight services
have been cancelled.
3.2 Over 1,500 asylum seekers have been
found on freight trains arriving at the EWS freight yard at Dollands
Moor near Folkestone. The previous stop of these trains is the
SNCF freight yard at Fréthun where there is a change of
locomotive and traincrew as well as an inspection of the train.
3.3 EWS has lost revenue of over £10
million. Although EWS is able to avoid variable costs such as
fuel the majority of its costs are semi-variable or fixed. As
we wish to continue in the international rail freight business
we have maintained the necessary resource base.
3.4 Since November 2001, Channel Tunnel
rail freight has only operated 40% of normal services, putting
60% of existing traffic back onto the road network. This has seen
the return of over 100,000 lorry movements to the road networks
of Britain and Europe, increasing road congestion particularly
in the south-east of England.
3.5 Despite efforts by all the parties involved
the continuation of the problem is undermining customer confidence.
Reduced and unreliable services, damage to goods and transport
units by asylum seekers (breakages and human waste) and negative
publicity are destroying the credibility of international rail
freight. Long term customers are walking away from rail freight,
possibly permanently, pushing Channel Tunnel rail freight into
3.6 Before this crisis began EWS and its
partners were planning an expansion of services for Channel Tunnel
rail freight. These plans are now under review. One example was
the major expansion of the Mossend Euroterminal in Scotland, which
would have greatly enhanced the terminal's ability to handle more
traffic. This £12.5 million scheme is at risk because of
the problems with Channel Tunnel services.
3.7 Unless the issues of security at Fréthun
are resolved then EWS believes that Channel Tunnel rail freight
will eventually collapse, increasing costs for businesses in Britain
and across Europe.
4.1 International rail freight problems
are centred on the SNCF yard at Fréthun near Calais. This
yard has been under siege from asylum seekers since November 2001
because of inadequate policing and inadequate physical security
such as fencing, CCTV and infra-red cameras.
4.2 The current schedule of specific policing
support provided by the French authorities is inadequate and ineffective.
Over a 24-hour period, there are no gendarmes for 12 hours. The
maximum support of 55 gendarmes is in place only four hours per
day and cannot police three miles of fence.
gendarmes who arrive
4.3 The effects of the poor policing can be seen on the
video recently sent to all members of the Transport Sub-Committee
4.4 In addition, the policing resources of the British
Transport Police in Kent are being used to process asylum seekers
and to take them from the EWS Dollands Moor freight yard to Immigration
Services in Dover. This prevents the BTP from doing their core
job of policing the railway and preventing crime.
4.5 The Fréthun yard is surrounded by fences,
both of which are easy to penetrate or climb. This is in stark
contrast to the fencing provided around the Eurotunnel site, which
is both higher and includes more effective deterrents such as
barbed wire. The Fréthun fence is also extremely inadequate
compared with the fencing at EWS's Dollands Moor yard, which consists
of palisade fencing together with CCTV equipped with video motion
5.1 EWS has chosen not to comment on immigration policy;
that is a matter for others. However EWS welcomes the signals
that the British Government is seeking, with the French Government,
to address the underlying causes of asylum seekers attempting
to enter Britain on freight trains. However, it would be wrong
to take the view that the closure of the Red Cross camp at Sangatte
alone would resolve the problem.
5.2 The problem of asylum seekers is a multi-faceted
issue. Closure of the Sangatte camp, which provides a concentration
of 1,500-asylum seekers two miles from the Channel Tunnel, will
be an important step in resolving this crisis. However, proper
security and 24-hour policing at the rail freight yard at Fréthun
must accompany any closure of the camp. Unless the French authorities
improve security at the freight yard, services will still be disrupted,
asylum seekers will still make their way to Folkestone and the
Channel Tunnel asylum problem will remain. The British Government
must demand from the French Government the essential security
and policing at Fréthun, alongside any closure of the Sangatte
6. FUTURE OF
6.1 EWS has stated that it is in the Channel Tunnel rail
freight business for the long term. The consequence of this decision
has been that the company has to endure both rising financial
losses and loss of business. The long-term approach has been taken
by EWS because of the investment by EWS in Channel Tunnel rail
freight and the employment of the 321 EWS employees whose work
depends upon Channel Tunnel rail freight services. EWS also owns
or leases extensive international rail freight assets including
terminals, yards, locomotives and wagons.
6.2 EWS has the option to relinquish the Channel Tunnel
rail freight business if it cannot operate the services in line
with its commercial objectives. EWS has no wish to take this course
7. GOVERNMENT OBLIGATIONS
7.1 Both the British and French Governments hold obligations
in respect of the security and running of Channel Tunnel rail
freight services through the Treaty of Canterbury (12 February
7.2 This treaty states that both Governments are:
Confident that a Channel fixed link will greatly improve
communications between the United Kingdom and France and give
fresh impetus to relations between the two countries.
Desiring to contribute to the development of relations
and of exchanges between the Member States of the European Communities
and more generally between European States.
Article 2 (1)The High Contracting Parties shall
take measures which are necessary to ensure that the construction
and operation of the Fixed Link shall be consistent with their
Article 10(1)An Intergovernmental Commission shall
be established to supervise . . . all matter concerning the construction
and operation of the Fixed Link.
Article 10(3)(f)considering . . . any other matter
which appears to it to be necessary to consider.
In view of these obligations it is disappointing that the
operation of through freight services has been allowed to deteriorate.
By failing to safeguard the provision of services through the
Tunnel, the British and French governments are acting contrary
to their own policies on the development of rail transport and
those of the wider EU.
7.3 Member states of the European Community, including
France, have obligations under the Treaty of Rome. These obligations
require a member state to ensure that it takes all necessary and
proportionate measures to ensure that the free movement of goods
is not obstructed by actions of private individuals (asylum seekers).
These obligations are under Article 10 (ex Article 5), Article
28 (ex Article 30) and Article 29 (ex Article 34) of the Treaty
Article 10 (ex Article 5): Member States shall take all
appropriate measures, whether general or particular, to ensure
fulfilment of the obligations arising out of this Treaty or resulting
from action taken by institutions of the Community. They shall
facilitate the achievement of the Community's tasks. They shall
abstain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment
of the objectives of this Treaty.
Article 28 (ex Article 30): Quantitative restrictions
on imports and all measures having equivalent effect shall be
prohibited between Member States.
Article 29 (ex Article 34): Quantitative restrictions
on exports, and all measures having equivalent effect, shall be
prohibited between Member States.
The disruption caused by asylum seekers boarding freight
trains has created an obstacle to the free movement of goods as
SNCF has been forced to reduce, or at times suspend, northbound
rail freight traffic in the Channel Tunnel. France's failure to
prevent such actions puts it in breach of its EC obligations.
7.4 As a result EWS has lodged a complaint with the European
Commission and a petition with the European Parliament. On 22
May 2002 EWS's petition was heard by the European Parliament's
Petitions Committee. The Committee supported the petition and
called for a number of actions:
that the Transport Commissioner attends the next
meeting of the Committee (19 June) to explain the Commission's
that the Commission makes a formal request under
article 5 of the 1998 Council Regulation (Functioning of the internal
market and the free movement of goods across Europe) thus enabling
action to be taken against the French Government;
that the French and British Governments appear
before the Committee; and
that a full debate on the issue in the European
Parliament should be considered.
EWS is seeking the following action.
8.1 The immediate provision of policing at the Fréthun
freight yard 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The policing should
be at a level sufficient to deter asylum seekers attempting to
board trains at Fréthun.
8.2 The provision of high-security fencing around Fréthun
yard sufficient to provide a permanent deterrent to asylum seekers.
This fencing should be at least equivalent to that in place at
the Eurotunnel site and ideally similar to the fencing provided
by EWS at its Dollands Moor yard.
8.3 Pressure to be exerted by the UK Government on the
French Authorities to ensure the actions identified above are
completed. The following UK Government Departments all have an
interest in the successful conclusion of this problem:
Department for Transport.
Department of Trade & Industry.
Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
8.4 Action to be taken by the European Commission under
the Treaty of Rome in response to EWS's complaint that the Republic
of France is taking insufficient action to ensure the free movement
of goods between member states of the European Union.
8.5 The remit of the Intergovernmental Commission should
be reviewed and revised to ensure a more positive involvement
in restoring services to the anticipated levels.
8.6 Compensation to be provided to EWS and other industry
parties who have suffered financial losses because of the disruption
to international freight services.
8.7 Provision of funding by the Strategic Rail Authority
as part of a strategy to relaunch international freight services.
Such funding could be on a unit or block basis.
English Welsh & Scottish Railway Limited
10 June 2002
It may be helpful if this submission provides a brief chronology
of recent events.
|October 2001||Eurotunnel completes the installation of extensive security measures to combat the activities of Clandestines on their terminal at Coquelles (adjacent to the SNCF yard at Fréthun).|
|Fréthun repeatedly invaded by would be clandestine entrants seeking to enter the UK via freight trains operated by SNCF. SNCF obliged to halt services due to dangerous situation in Fréthun-security staff attacked. SNCF advises other railway operators in Europe that they are unable to accept any new trains for the UK until further notice-27 trains waiting acceptance. Backlog eventually cleared at the rate of five trains per night under the protection of the police.|
|Limited services resumed during 2100-0300 window when police scheduled to be present.|
|SNCF starts to erect new security fencing and installation of other security measures.|
|David Blunkett MP, the Home Secretary, tells Parliament that the £2,000 civil penalty against EWS is being dropped as the Home Office accepts that EWS is not the responsible operator for asylum seekers arriving into Britain on Channel Tunnel rail freight services.|
|Fencing is totally inadequate to deal with increased numbers of clandestines trying to gain access to trains. The limited services operating disrupted several times. Over 4,000 clandestines removed from Fréthun by the French authorities.|
|Clandestines seen riding on freight trains entering the Channel Tunnel, services stopped by Eurotunnel. 58 shuttle trains cancelled. SNCF place traffic restrictions on all new trains-17 in the pipeline waiting to cross through the tunnel. Extremely limited operation possible at Calais Fréthun. A six hour operating window 2100-0300 only possible with police presence.|
|The UK Minister for Transport, pledges a "rapid return to normal working" of Channel Tunnel rail freight services following a meeting with the French Government.|
|RFG-AUTF conference in Calais-SNCF agreed to restore service to "normal" (ie, Timetable operating in November 2001), from 2 April.|
|EWS's International arm lodges a formal complaint with the European Commission stating that the Republic of France was in breach of obligations contained in the Treaty of Rome, namely the free movement of goods across Europe. EWS also petitions the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament citing the same complaint.|
2 April 2002
|Normal working does not resume.|
10 April 2002
|Stephen Byers MP, then Secretary of State for Transport, tells the Transport Sub-Committee that the Government will hold the French authorities to running 72 Channel Tunnel rail freight services a week|
15 April 2002
|First week of "Normal" service only achieved 40 trains rather than 72 due to continued invasion of Fréthun by clandestines in Calais. EWS and SNCF agree to limit services to maximum of eight per day from 13 May to try and inject reliability and certainty into the business |
|Operation disrupted during previous weekend due to lack of police in Fréthun. SNCF increase restriction due to severe backlog of trains. No new trains accepted, 23 trains waiting to pass through the Tunnel. Mr. Blair is given assurances by the French authorities that security would be restored at Fréthun. This is to the levels outlined in the "Policing at Fréthun" section below. SNCF commit to improving fencing and provide better security at Fréthun. Statement made that work will commence in the summer. Restriction on services lifted by SNCF as backlog cleared.|
23 May 2002
|Another SNCF restriction on services imposed due to a backlog of services at Fréthun.|
29 May 2002
|Services further deteriorate as only 39 import trains a week are operated rather than the normal 96.|
Number of freight trains operated between France and UK since
Normal service refers to the planned timetable that should
be operating and has been suspended due to the clandestine activity
in Calais-Fréthun (inbound direction only). This table
also shows the number of clandestines found on trains on arrival
at Dollands Moor by EWS security staff.
|Trains run France-UK
|Clandestines at Dollands Moor|
|Trains run France-UK
|Clandestines at Dollands Moor||5
||85|| 96|| 96
|Trains run France-UK||45
||42|| 46|| 40
|Clandestines at Dollands Moor||75
|Trains run France-UK||34
|Clandestines at Dollands Moor||79
|1 CTRL blockade||
Three Public Holidays this week
|3 Two Public Holidays this week|
|Percentage of trains run 39.4%|
Damage to Channel Tunnel rail freight containers
This table records the number of intermodal units to be damaged
or to contain damaged goods on arrival in the UK during 2002,
caused by either clandestine entrants forcibly gaining entry/exit
and/or by causing damage to the goods in the units. On average
10% of containers a month need to be repaired and this further
damages customer confidence in Channel Tunnel rail freight.
||Feb ||March ||April
|Intermodal Units Moved||2,691
||2,816 ||2,125 ||2,521
||1,575 ||11,728 |
|Units Damaged|| 82
|| 209 || 189 || 310
|| 250 || 1,040
|% of units Damaged|| 3%
|| 7.4% || 8.9%
||12.3% ||15.9% || 8.9%
* Up to 26 May 2002