28 March 2002 | David Arminas
Pressure should be put on the UK government to end disruption to trains using the Channel Tunnel by asylum seekers, according to a rail freight body.
Tony Berkeley, chairman of the Rail Freight Group (RFG), said the disruption of rail services through the tunnel by illegal immigrants was predictable.
Organisations should lobby the government to work with the French to find a solution, he said.
Berkeley told SM: "The British and French governments could have foreseen this a year ago, and especially since last autumn. I urge all organisations to band together and lobby the government."
This month, the French government reduced freight services, normally 30 a day, and even stopped them for several days, in an effort to search trains for illegal immigrants trying to enter Britain.
In January, the Strategic Rail Authority announced as part of a 10-year plan an 80 per cent increase in rail freight, with
6 per cent of this coming from tunnel operations.
Freight operator English Welsh & Scottish Railway, which handles most of the freight that passes through the tunnel, is losing £500,000 a week, according to a spokesperson.
"It may reach a point where the business becomes unsustainable," he said.