EUROPE: The first of three additional freight shuttle rakes for carrying lorries was inaugurated by Groupe Eurotunnel Chairman & CEO Jacques Gounon and President of the Hauts-de-France Region Xavier Bertrand at the end of April. The three trainsets will provide 20% more capacity and enable Eurotunnel to offer up to eight departures per hour.

The vehicles were ordered from WBN Waggonbau Niesky in January 2015 at a cost of €40m, in what the manufacturer said was the largest single order in its 180-year history. They follow on from the six original rakes built by Breda-Fiat and nine second-generation shuttles supplied by Arbel.

Each of the third-generation rakes is 800 m long and comprises 32 flat carrier wagons, three loading wagons and a coach for the lorry drivers. The wagons are designed to be simpler, lighter and more aerodynamic than previous generations, and Eurotunnel said they benefited from ‘the latest developments in technology to ensure energy efficiency, strength and reliability’.

The Channel Tunnel concessionaire expects traffic to continue to increase as a result of the growing digital economy and the concentration of cross-Channel traffic onto the shortest routes, and has a target of carrying two million lorries in 2020.