Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Channel Tunnel 'must be cheaper'

Peers have recommended that the cost of using the Channel Tunnel should be reduced

Access charges to the Channel Tunnel should be reduced to give passengers a better deal, a House of Lords report has said.

The tunnel was not achieving its full potential, the report from the House of Lords Internal Market, Energy and Transport EU Sub-Committee said.

The committee said consumer interests must be paramount when it came to the tunnel.

Countries involved should "increase the importance and awareness of passenger rights, and ensure that tickets can be booked conveniently and in an integrated way to allow for easier and less bureaucratic international train travel".

The committee also recommended EU-wide safety standards should apply to the tunnel as it did not require "unique standards".

Also, border controls should be examined and streamlined to encourage new international services to be developed and the tunnel should be under direct governance by UK and French national regulators.

The committee's chairman Baroness O'Cathain, said: "Although the planned Deutsche Bahn services from Frankfurt and Amsterdam will result in greater connectivity between the UK and the rest of Europe, there remain many obstacles in the way of an open and less bureaucratic travelling experience for both rail passengers and freight operators.

"The costs of using the tunnel need to be reduced, the arrangements for purchasing tickets to travel on trains across Europe need to be easier and the interests of passengers must be placed at the very heart of services."

She went on: "If we are to reach our goal of encouraging less people to fly short distances and for more passengers to 'let the train take the strain', then we must work together to ensure that travelling by rail becomes easier, cheaper and more comfortable than other modes of travel.

"The recommendations that the committee make will go a long way towards unlocking the full potential of the Channel Tunnel and the access it allows UK passengers - and businesses - to the rest of Europe."

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