Eurotunnel’s parent company Getlink is aiming to double the number of crossing through the channel tunnel over the next ten years as it looks to make it easier for new operators to introduce services. 

The company claimed to have halved the time it would take to get a new service in operation, from ten to five years, by conducting a range of market and station surveys for potential new routes, highlighting Cologne, Germany and Geneva, Switzerland. 

CEO Yann Leriche made the announcement while marking the company’s 30th anniversary celebrations at their facilities in Coquelles, France, describing the event as opening “the second chapter” in the company’s history. 

Leriche also referenced the recent reports that new operators were looking to run services through the tunnel from London to Europe, possibly challenging Eurostar’s monopoly on the route for the first time in its three-decade history. 

The CEO confirmed the news published by high-speed start-up Evolyn, that it was in talks to launch operations, saying its agreement to acquire rolling stock from Alstom could mean services would begin earlier than the five-year timeline. 

However, while Leriche also mentioned Dutch company Heuro, which has also said it has plans to run services from London to Amsterdam via the tunnel, the company would not comment on the possibility of new operators introducing any of the new routes Leriche had outlined. He did not name the other two companies rumoured to be in talks with GetLink.

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In addition to inviting new operators to take advantage of the potential new routes, the CEO also called on the UK Government to support GetLink’s desire to change the gauge of tracks linking to Kent to allow for a greater range of freight trains to operate further from the tunnel.

Leriche said the company was asking the government to use re-distributed funds from the cancelled HS2 Phase 2b line to Manchester to invest the £50m needed to adapt the Folkestone to Wembley line to a W12 gauge, allowing the trains needed to carry swap body containers to operate between the Eurotunnel and the route towards London.

Alongside the future of external operators in the tunnel, Leriche spoke about the introduction of the EU’s new entry/exit system (EES), claiming that customers using GetLink’s LeShuttle passenger service between Folkestone, England and Coquelles would only experience an extra 5-7 minutes checking in using EES despite the extra processing needed for each customer. 

Though EES has yet to be given a confirmed start date, the EU has said that it wants the system, which will see non-EU passengers required to answer questions and provide biometric data such as fingerprints before crossing the border, in use by October. 

Highlighting the planned €78m investment into developing and implementing the system, €46m of which has already been committed, Leriche said: “As we know, we already went through a phase where we had more formalities to process with Brexit, and look, Brexit [added] not a single minute on top of what we had before for processing. 

“I am not telling you that it will be the same, it will be five to seven minutes more, but, we have multiplied the number of lanes where you can go and, thanks to that, we will be able to process everything.” 

GetLink has already celebrated a successful year of operation after recording record revenue in Q1 and claiming a leading market share for passenger and freight services across the channel with its LeShuttle brand.