Executive Chairman Patrick Ponsolle announced on March 15 that Eurotunnel had achieved a net profit of £64m in 1998. This included exceptional items from the financial restructuring, but the underlying loss was cut by almost £400m to £215m. An operating profit of £184m enabled 69% of the interest due on loans to be funded out of turnover totalling £666m.

Shuttle revenues were 87% up at £210m, almost matching the £213m Minimum Usage Charge paid by the railways. Retail and other revenues totalled £195m, including what Group Managing Director Georges-Christian Chazot called ’explosive demand’ for high capacity optic-fibre cables through the Channel Tunnel.

Passenger shuttle load factor is 24% leaving plenty of scope for growth, but the seven HGV shuttles carried more than 700000 lorries during 1998 with a load factor of 58%. Three Arbel HGV shuttles enter service this year.

Technical Director Dave Pointon says the weight of freight shuttles has been increasing from the design figure of 2200 tonnes. ’It is now about 2400 tonnes, and we are projecting 2800 tonnes in the future.’ Contributing to this are increases in the number of lorries carried, the average load on each lorry, and the planned installation of sprinklers, which requires a water tank wagon in each train.

Eurotunnel is looking at buying new locos rated at 9MW, or installing a 7MW traction package in some of the existing 5·6MW Brush-built locos specifically for the freight shuttles. More details on our website: www.railgaz.co.uk