EUROTUNNEL’s financial restructuring was finally completed on April 8, 30 months after the company suspended interest payments on £8bn of bank debt. Executive Chairman Patrick Ponsolle said ’restructuring provides financial stability for the years to come’, but warned that ’this in itself is not sufficient’. The first quarter of 1998 saw a 26% increase in turnover compared with 1997, including insurance payments after the November 1996 fire. This reflected substantial rises in all categories of traffic, and firmer prices in the run up to the merger of ferry operators P&O and Stena which became effective on March 10.
The disappointment was Eurostar. Notwithstanding completion of the Belgian high speed line in December, a 14% increase in passengers compared with a slower and less reliable service offered during single-track working after the fire may reflect the disarray of London & Continental Railways (p280).
Eurostar continues to be isolated from the rest of Europe’s rail network by strict security and frontier controls. Since April 9 the British government has imposed a £2000 fine on Eurostar (UK) Ltd for every passenger arriving from Brussels (but not Paris) without valid documents, complicating pre-boarding checks. And London - K