Port fights any Eurotunnel rescue plan

Contributed by editor on Apr 23, 2004 - 08:30 AM

The Port of Dover has told the government it must not be disadvantaged by any rescue plan for its financially troubled competitor.

"Based o­n financial justification we all know that the Channel Tunnel should never have been built in the first place," said Chief Executive Bob Goldfield. "Now that it has been proven to be a financial disaster, it is imperative for the Port of Dover that any rescue plan does not allow for the debt to be written off and the operation run from a clean sheet of paper."

The Port of Dover took the opportunity to remind Minister for Transport, Tony McNulty, that it is closely monitoring the developing situation at Eurotunnel during a fact-finding visit to the port.

The minister, along with Dover MP Gwyn Prosser and South East MEP Mark Watts, met the chairman of Dover Harbour Board Robert Dibble, Bob Goldfield and the port’s Head of Corporate Affairs Howard Holt.

The port team had a shopping list of rail and road issues to discuss:

* Dover must be connected to London with a passenger rail journey time of o­ne hour utilising the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL)

* The port has obtained EU money for the FINESSE project to study the reintroduction of rail freight to the port. The government must improve the rail network between Dover and London to allow the development of intermodal rail freight services using both the CTRL and the existing lines to and around London

* The A20 road needs to be upgraded by the addition of crawler lanes o­n the steep gradients between Dover and Folkestone, and the improvement of traffic flows in Townwall Street (location of the o­nly traffic lights and roundabouts o­n the main international route from Scotland to Italy)

* The A2 road approaching Dover contains lengths of single carriageway which are inadequate for such a strategic route. Previous plans for a full dualling of this last five miles need to be implemented.

Bob Goldfield added: "We are following up this discussion with the Minister by holding a further round of meetings with the Strategic Rail Authority and the Highways Agency who are the government’s delivery agencies for rail and roads."