UK Politics

Peers call for better Channel Tunnel rail services

Image caption Eurostar services should face competition say peers

Travelling through the Channel Tunnel by train needs to be easier, cheaper, and more comfortable, says a committee of peers.

The Lords EU Committee calls for more services to mainland Europe and an end to complex ticket booking.

At present less than half the tunnel's capacity for passenger services is being used.

The peers say cutting the charges which train operators are forced to pay would help to increase services.

The committee's report calls for a "concerted effort" to improve services and a review of the 25-year-old agreement under which the Channel Tunnel is operated.

"Staggering"

The Tory peer Baroness O'Cathain, who chairs the sub-committee which produced the report, says there are too many "obstacles" which stop rail services improving.

"The Channel Tunnel offers a huge opportunity to get passenger traffic off short haul flights and off the roads of Europe," she says.

"It is absolutely staggering that less than half of its capacity is being used and only one company, Eurostar, is operating passenger services."

To tackle that the committee calls for a cut in the charges made before train operators can use the tunnel.

The German train operator Deutsche Bahn is aiming to run trains from London to Frankfurt and Amsterdam from 2013.

It plans to run three services daily, also serving Brussels, Cologne and Rotterdam.

The committee says it is important that these services are not delayed.

"Less spartan"

On ticketing, the committee heard evidence that a journey from a UK station outside London to a destination in Germany can involve buying four different tickets.

"The train companies involved should get together and sort this out," says Baroness O'Cathain.

She is also for seating on Eurostar trains to be "less spartan" .

"People travelling to Paris or Brussels may not expect a meal, but they should expect proper seats."

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