With the 25th Anniversary of Eurotunnel le Shuttle services in May 2019, and with Brexit on the horizon, 2019 is set to be a year to remember according to Eurotunnel's Sales Manager Coach Tourism, Joël Fauquette. Parent company GETLINK has been contingency planning for the past two-and-a-half years ahead of the delivery of Brexit, looking at ways customers can continue to travel through the Channel Tunnel as quickly and as smoothly as possible. The only real issue that has arisen is the level of border controls the UK and EU Governments will insist on if and when Brexit happens.
On Thursday, 4th April 2019, Eurotunnel officially handed over buildings intended for customs, veterinary and phytosanitary inspection services, to the French authorities, represented by Mr. Fabien Sudry, Prefet of the Pas-de-Calais region.
The Douane-SIVEP control centre will be open 24/7 for Ministry of Agriculture officials and customs officers. It provides 9 unloading docks, a refrigerated storage area, 100 parking spaces for trucks waiting for sanitary and phytosanitary controls and 1,000-square-metre offices for the various border services, as well as Eurotunnel staff. In addition Eurotunnel has also created two coach halls and two buildings with tax reclaim zones and unveiled new e-gates with facial recognition in the coach hall, which are currently awaiting official approval, and which will speed up French border police checks.
John Keefe, Director of Public Affairs at GETLINK, states “The UK government has made it clear that there will not be any more controls at the border than there are today, so we do not foresee problems for goods coming into country . The Channel Tunnel will be able to accommodate the projected traffic flows whatever the time of day or the day of the week. We have been liaising with Border Force in the UK and the equivalent in France, on behalf of the EU, on how any physical checks can be accelerated given the speed of movement of goods through the Tunnel and on the short straits in general and the message we are getting loud and clear from everybody is that 'we favour flow'. Our goal is to keep traffic flowing as it is so important to the economy. As far as customers, whether coach drivers or passengers are concerned, information on future travel requirements can be found at: www.eurotunnel.com/uk/brexit/.”
It is worth considering whether customers and / or coach drivers need to get their passports updated, obtain an International Drivers Permit or a Green Card to go alongside vehicle insurance. Eurotunnel has also been investing in the Terminals in Folkestone, UK, and Coquelles, France, and is comfortable that it is ready for whatever Brexit brings.
Photo: Eurotunnel entrance and exit at Coquelles, France © Dr. Patrick Patridge
A number of other projects are running alongside Brexit preparations, one of the key ones being the mid-life renovation of the Passenger Shuttle rail carriages. This project will run until 2026 and has been awarded to Bombardier Transportation. The aim being to renovate nine Passenger Shuttles. Composed in total of 254 wagons, each 800-metre long shuttle is made up for passengers’ vehicles with passengers remaining in their coaches during the 35-minute Channel crossing.
In the 25-year period since the opening of the Channel Tunnel on 6th May 1994 , these Shuttles have each travelled an average of 300 round trips per month and have enabled over 236 million passengers to travel very comfortably between France and Great Britain. Over 50,000 tour coaches passed through the tunnel in 2018.
Photo: Artist’s impression of renovated Shuttle passenger rail carriage © Eurotunnel le Shuttle
Mr. Joël Fauquette
Sales Manager Coach Tourism