Sectors that rely on “just in time” production techniques, including the automotive industry, have particularly benefited ©Groupe Eurotunnel
Sectors that rely on “just in time” production techniques, including the automotive industry, have particularly benefited ©Groupe Eurotunnel

Channel Tunnel ‘fundamentally changed UK logistics’

16 November 2016

More than a quarter of all goods traded between the UK and Europe, worth around £91.4bn a year, come through the Channel Tunnel, a report has found.

In its report, Economic Footprint of the Channel Tunnel Fixed LinkEY found that 30% of UK exports, worth £43.6bn, and 22% of imports, worth £47.8bn, to and from the EU depend on the tunnel.

The report, commissioned by Groupe Eurotunnel to demonstrate the value the tunnel brings, said exports through it support an estimated 22,000 jobs in the UK.

In the 22 years since it has opened, the report said the tunnel has fundamentally changed UK logistics by enabling integrated manufacturing across the continent and opening up new markets.

It has particularly benefited sectors which rely on “just in time” production techniques, including the automotive industry, has enhanced express delivery for logistics companies and facilitated rapid transportation of essential fresh food products, the report said.

The tunnel also transports 21m passengers a year and brings in tourism worth £1.7bn to the UK economy, which in turn supports a further 45,000 jobs. Its trains transport people on an estimated 840,000 business trips a year.

Jacques Gounon, chairman and CEO of Groupe Eurotunnel, said that despite Brexit, “the Channel Tunnel remains vital to the UK, to connect it with Europe and beyond and it will continue to form a key part of the UK’s transport infrastructure”.

Postal and courier freight, worth £9.9bn, accounted for the largest percentage of exports, followed by computers and electronics (£7.9bn), motor vehicles, parts and other transport equipment (£6.1bn) and iron, steel and metal products (£3.9bn).

A survey of Eurotunnel users indicated France is the most significant single destination for their exports, representing 18% of the UK’s exports via the tunnel.

These primarily consist of exports of postal and courier freight and chemical products. 

The region that accounted for the largest share of exports of exports via the tunnel is the West Midlands (20%), closely followed by the East of England (18%).

Around 40% of the jobs supported by exports are based in the West and East Midlands and around a third of these are in the production of iron, steel and metal products.

Around 55% of these products are exported by the tunnel.

In the East of England around 16% of jobs are based on exports and are concentrated in sectors such as the production of computers and electronics and motor vehicles, parts and other transport equipment as well as being the region with the most jobs supported in sectors that export using postal and courier freight.

Scotland accounts for 5% of the value of goods exported via the tunnel, including £970m of computers and electronics and £300m of fish, fruit, vegetables and flowers.

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