Run by Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Freight and operating 24 hours a day and six days per week, departures will be from the fixed link group’s two terminals in Calais and Folkestone, with capacity initially set at 8,300 trailers per year.
Channel Tunnel operator Getlink will later this week launch a cross-Channel unaccompanied rail freight service for trailers – ‘Eurotunnel Border Pass’ – to provide an alternative to accompanied freight crossings.
Effective 18 September and open to all transport companies, it will be run by Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Freight and operate 24 hours a day and six days per week. Departures will be from the fixed link group’s two terminals in Calais and Folkestone. The service’s capacity will be initially set at 8,300 trailers per year.
Benefiting from Getlink’s “unique customs expertise,” the Eurotunnel Border Pass service will allow transporters to speed up the border crossing by digitising their administrative exchanges with the border authorities, the company noted.
Emitting 40 times less CO2 than ferries, the new rail service will also enable customers to decarbonize their logistics chain by choosing rail, the company added, the modal shift contributing to the French government’s objectives of doubling the share of rail in freight transport by 2030 as well as the ambitions to decarbonise freight set out by the UK government in its Green Industrial Revolution Plan.
“By offering a new low-carbon, reliable and ultra-secure service, we are responding to a changing demand, and we confirm our determination to be the preferred means of passage for the most demanding logistics chains,” explained Christian Dufermont, freight commercial director at Eurotunnel.
New unaccompanied freight ferry
Meanwhile, in a separate development, a new cross-Channel ‘environment-friendly’ maritime service dedicated to unaccompanied freight is set to be launched on 1 November, plying a Calais-Tilbury route.
Shipping company, Blue Channel Line (BCL), created by three Calais-based entrepreneurs, will operate a daily round trip Monday to Saturday using a chartered vessel with the capacity to handle 100 trailers per crossing. BCL is eyeing a load factor of 80% after four months of activity.
The company has spent the summer installing technology on the vessel which neutralises the air pollution it emits, such as fine particles and soot. In a second phase, by the end of 2022, it will be equipped with automated, 40-metre-high sails, wind power allowing the ship to reduce fuel consumption by 20-50%, depending on the weather conditions.
In an interview with French business newspaper, Les Echos, BCL’s managing director, Sébastien Douvry, a former senior executive with DFDS, described the new service between Calais and Tilbury as “all-inclusive” – providing customs clearance, handling and transport.
“We will also create a structure in Tilbury, named Blue Channel Logistic to offer this end-to-end service on both sides of the Channel,” he added.
The constraints linked to Brexit, notably the re-introduction of customs clearance for goods at the UK-EU border, the COVID-19 health crisis and the shortage of lorry drivers, have generated a strong demand for unaccompanied freight transport since the start of the year.
In June, DFDS launched a daily round trip service for unaccompanied freight service between Calais and Sheerness, in northern Kent, operated by the Gothia Seaways, which can carry up to 165 trailers or containers per crossing.