Freight trains heading for the UK through the Channel Tunnel are to be scanned ‘on the move’ by customs officials using new technology designed to help detect smuggling. The 6.4 million Euros facility at Calais is expected to enter service towards the middle of 2018.
Smugglers detection entrance Channel Tunnel
It will be operated by customs officers from the Douane, the French customs and excise agency which is only authority certified to use such material in France. The scanner will mean several hours can be saved on the process of controlling trains on smugglers heading for the UK via the Channel Tunnel. The installation of the equipment will enable customs staff to control up to 30 trains a day, travelling at 20 kilometres per hour, without stopping.
Speed of growth
Funded entirely by the Eurotunnel Group, the scanner for smugglers will be situated on the national railway network following an agreement with SNCF Réseau, the French national rail infrastructure manager. Officials from both companies took part in a ceremony to lay a foundation stone at Calais-Frethun freight yard.
Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Groupe Eurotunnel SE, said: “To prepare for the speed of growth in rail freight traffic, Eurotunnel has installed state-of-the-art technology. This investment is unique in France and will enable us to handle the 5,000 trains per year forecast by 2023.”
Patrick Jeanet, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SNCF Réseau, added: “Our specialist teams will work closely together to install this smugglers scanner. SNCF Réseau has made space availabl…
UK public favour rail freight over roads, says survey
Almost two thirds of people (61 per cent) questioned in a survey would like to see more freight transported by rail in the UK, with only two per cent wanting to see more on the roads.
More government funding
The online survey was commissioned by a leading transport pressure group, the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT). Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail manager at the CBT, said: “This poll shows that the majority of the public support moving more freight by rail and want more government funding to assist this.
“The Government is committed to reducing harmful emissions and improving air quality, and rail freight is pivotal to this. Rail freight might not be able to vote, but our opinion polling shows that the public support rail over road when it comes to freight.”
Rail freight has seen consistent year on year growth in key consumer and construction markets, but the potential for further growth is constrained by the current freight network, meaning that demand continues to outstrip supply. In addition, HGVs receive a large subsidy from the Government which adds another barrier to enabling rail freight to compete on a level playing field.
‘Tip the balance’
The Office of Road and Rail is currently reviewing rail freight charges and campaigners are concerned that any increases will further tip the balance in favour of road freight and prevent future expansion of rail freight. Of the people questioned for this poll, only around 1 in 10 (12 per cent) were in favour of increasing rail freight charges.
“The Government It is currently reviewing the charges it places on rail freight operators to use the rail network,” added Ms Edmunds. “If it chooses to increase these charges, rail freight is likely to decline and we will see more lorries on our already congested roads, something that seems to have little public support.”
A total of 1,670 people were questioned for the survey on June 21…