Channel Tunnel freight traffic does not avoid ongoing volume slump

Image: Shutterstock. jayk67

Rail freight traffic figures through the Channel Tunnel do not seem to be on track for a full recovery. Getlink, the company that manages Eurotunnel’s railway infrastructure, revealed that the second quarter of 2023 saw a three per cent year-on-year growth in the volume of freight trains that crossed the Channel Tunnel. Despite the slight increase between April-June, the overall performance for conventional freight trains and truck shuttles is not promising.

In Q2 2023, 387 freight trains crossed the Channel Tunnel between the UK and mainland Europe. As mentioned, compared to the same period last year, when 377 freight trains crossed the tunnel, there is a three per cent increase. However, for the same period, there was a 23 per cent decline in the volumes of truck shuttle traffic. Specifically, for Q2 2023, 302.531 trucks crossed the Channel on trains, while for the same period in 2022, this number was 391.965.

What is more important is the overall outlook for this year. Despite a small increase in conventional freight train traffic in Q2 2023, Q1 2023 presented even lower figures, with 346 freight trains running instead of 377 in 2022. In the same period, there was also a significant drop in truck shuttles, with 321.904 trucks crossing the Channel instead of 374.868 in Q1 2022.

To make the drop more understandable, the overall decrease for the first half of 2023 corresponds to 21 fewer freight trains (733 in 2023 vs 754 in 2022) and a three per cent decrease. Regarding truck shuttle traffic, the overall difference between the first half of this year and the first half of last year is 19 per cent, corresponding to 142.398 fewer trucks.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is the Chief Editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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