Travelling in the right direction? Lords say Channel Tunnel is not achieving its full potential

13 June 2012

Following the publication of the Lords Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment EU Sub-Committee’s report on the Channel Tunnel and the European Rail Market in December 2011 and the Government’s response in February 2012, the Lords will debate its findings on Thursday 14 June.

The report, Tunnel vision? Completing the European rail market, found that the potential of the Channel Tunnel had not yet been unlocked, despite ample spare capacity on the network.  A combination of high access charges, uneven implementation of EU legislation designed to ensure fair access and an outdated view of the Tunnel as a unique case were all acting as barriers to rail expansion.  The Committee called for a concerted effort to boost the interoperability, affordability and consumer focus of the European rail network in general, and the Channel Tunnel in particular.

The debate will be opened by Baroness O’Cathain (Conservative), Chairman of the Sub-Committee.  Other Members scheduled to speak include:

  • Lord Davies of Oldham (Labour), Opposition spokesperson for Transport;
  • Lord Berkeley (Labour), Board Member, European Rail Freight Association;
  • Lord Freeman, Minister for Public Transport at the time of the Tunnel’s opening;
  • Lord Haskel (Labour), Committee member; and
  • Baroness Scott of Needham Market (Liberal Democrat), former Chair of the Transport Committee of the Local Government Association.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Labour) is also expected to take part in the debate.

Earl Attlee (Conservative) will respond on behalf of the Government. 

The debate, expected to being at around 4pm, is an opportunity for members of the Committee and the House to discuss these recommendations as part of an examination of how best to ensure the strong and sustainable growth of the European rail market.

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