The owner of Eurotunnel foresees upcoming direct high-speed rail connections departing from London.

According to Getlink CEO, competing services to Germany and Switzerland could potentially utilize the Channel tunnel within the next five years. New high-speed train routes from London to Cologne, Frankfurt, Geneva, and Zurich may be established within this timeframe. The increase in UK rail links to Europe has doubled the capacity and opened opportunities for new entrants and destinations.

Two potential operators, Evolyn from Spain and Heuro, a Dutch train startup, have expressed their interest in challenging Eurostar. Getlink CEO, Yann Leriche, has been in conversation with at least two other players regarding starting competing operations through the tunnel. Leriche believes that rail travel could eventually capture 30-40% of the airline traffic on the shorter routes between London and Germany or Switzerland.

While previous attempts to open new routes have been unsuccessful, Leriche notes the current appetite and demand from new entrants, suggesting a race for competition. He further states that increased competition and train availability could result in lower fares. Getlink also has ambitions to enhance its freight services.

Getlink is urging the UK government to allocate some of the savings from canceling HS2 north of Birmingham to upgrade the Folkestone-Wembley line. This would enable the transportation of standard international containers, alleviating road congestion in Kent and reinforcing logistics chains. Getlink is investing €78m in new border booths to prepare for the expected introduction of the EU entry-exit system in October 2024.

Leriche also criticizes competitors utilizing the Channel crossing for engaging in “social dumping.” He raises concerns about P&O Ferries and Irish Ferries employing agency workers from overseas at wages approximately 60% below the minimum once social benefits and leave are considered. Leriche questions if such practices exist in other European industries.

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