The latest Press release from Getlink, the company that runs the Eurotunnel, has just announced that the number of freight trucks (119 917) passing through the tunnel in January 2022 was an increase of 38% compared to January 2021. Note that this means the average is now some 3 797 per day.
In spite of “the disruptions resulting from implementation of the administrative formalities in the trade and cooperation agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom” (aka Brexit), this year-on-year increase shows the success of the Eurotunnel Border pass. This is a digital pass which works by pre-submitted data on freight and then number-plate recognition at the border gates each side.
Passenger vehicle numbers up 44%
Le Shuttle also transported 66 875 passenger vehicles, an increase of 44% since January last year. In spite of some Covid restrictions being lifted, traffic is still reduced by the pandemic.
So if the Eurotunnel pass is now working so well for the freight lorries, why were we seeing the queues on the M20, and the implementation of TAP in Dover which, in times of congestion, confines the lorries to the left lane to enable local traffic to proceed?
One reason that was given by port authorities is that two of the ferry boats that normally also take the lorries were out of service for maintenance. Also, it could be suggested, the Eurotunnel Border pass efficiently filters the freight which can go forward without delay (from the companies that know how to submit the correct details) from the rest that get stuck in the lines waiting for the ferries.
Continental school visits down, according to local observers
One type of traffic not mentioned by Getlink is the reduction in school coaches. Local sources say that up to 50 school parties in coaches per day used to visit Canterbury, from schools in Northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Now none of these are apparent. Even when Covid restrictions lessen, it is unlikely these will return while the UK home office insists on full visas, even passports, from school children not EU born.
This is an example of Brexit red tape needlessly strangling local sources of income.