Eurotunnel to introduce three new freight shuttle sets
Eurotunnel is adding 20% more capacity to its cross-channel freight operation with the introduction of three more 800-metre-long lorry shuttles.
Built by Waggonbau Niesky in eastern Germany at a cost of 40 million euros (£33.9m), the trains feature three loading wagons and 32 lorry carriers (nine loaders and 96 flats in total) and are Eurotunnel’s first new rolling stock since 1999. The order includes an option for two more sets, which look likely to be required as the company aims to carry two million lorries per year by 2020.
The order includes three types of wagon: a 25.2-metre end loader, a 24.85-metre middle loader, and a 20-metre carrier flats with raised crew/driver walkways either side of the central roadway.
Power for the three new trains will be provided by locomotives from the existing fleet of 57 Brush Bo-Bo-Bo electrics. However, extra locomotives may be required later if the options are taken up, increasing the combined passenger and freight shuttle fleet to 27 trains and leaving just three spare locomotives.
The result of a three-year development project, using experience gained with the six original Breda trains and nine Arbel freight shuttles dating from 1999, these ‘third generation’ vehicles are built for Eurotunnel’s unique (and extremely intensive) operating conditions.
Delivered by road from Germany, the first set has been in trial use since February 20, undertaking 220 hours and 6,000km of dynamic testing, since when it has completed 1,000 ‘missions’ and carried 20,000 lorries, covering more than 58,000km in service. A second set will be introduced shortly, with the third arriving later this year.
They have been designed to eliminate some of the overengineering of earlier vehicles, making them simpler to operate and maintain, more reliable and more efficient. The wagons are also designed to be more aerodynamic, reducing energy consumption for the trains, which weigh 2,500 tonnes when fully loaded and travel at up to 140kph (87mph).
Eurotunnel’s current schedule features a freight shuttle departing the Cheriton and Coquelles terminals every 9½-10 minutes at peak times. This is set to increase to every seven minutes - or eight departures per hour. Freight shuttles make up to 20 trips per day through the tunnel, carrying around 150,000 lorries every year.
Eurotunnel is also investing in its passenger operation, with new ‘Flexiplus’ lounges under construction at both the UK and French terminals and due to open in 2018. According to Eurotunnel Chief Executive Jacques Gounon, there are no current plans to acquire more passenger shuttle trains, but the company is looking to provide a higher level of service and a better-quality experience throughout the journey.
One of Eurotunnel’s new freight shuttle wagons stands at Coquelles on April 28. Three have been delivered, designed to add 20% more capacity to Eurotunnel operations.