Eurotunnel, along with other UK companies, sees a surge in cross-channel freight traffic due to stockpiling as the Brexit transition period ends in December, its latest figures revealed.
According to the chief Brexit officer of the logistics group ATS, Loic Chavaroche, the French side has been having up to seven or eight hours of delays in the freight routes marking “the beginning of the difficulties of crossing the channel” post-Brexit.
Good News on the Year-end: Growing Freight Traffic
Nevertheless, from the second week of December, the Eurotunnel freight tunnel service alone held a record-breaking weekly traffic level of over 40,000 trucks and a “relatively strong” 2020 operation despite the health crisis. According to Sébastien Rivera of the National Road Transport Federation, “There’s a strong rise in traffic flows by up to 30-50 percent on some days compared to last year” due to the anticipation for Brexit.
Like Le Shuttle Freight, operators saw an 8% rise in traffic for trips between Folkestone and Coquelles, much like their pre-COVID statistics for the same period in 2019.
This news sheds a little light on what has become a gloomy time for cross-channel freight operation in the UK, worsened by the travel restrictions sparked by the new coronavirus strain and the closing of French borders.
However, this light did not extend to passenger traffic, as the pandemic’s chaos restricted human movement.
In December, Le Shuttle saw a 47% drop in tourist numbers and about 63% in tourist vehicles than figures from the same month in 2019.
However, there lies a little light for Le Shuttle in this area as well. According to Eurotunnel, though Le Shuttle continued to be “strongly impacted” by the COVID-19 travel restrictions and testing measures, their 2020 passenger traffic level remained much better than their competitors.
“The level of traffic in 2020 remains higher than that of our competitors’ thanks to the competitive advantage of Le Shuttle, in terms of speed, reliability, and health, offering a contactless journey from start to finish,” said Eurotunnel in a statement.
Post-Brexit Cross-channel Freight Operations
As for freight traffic, Rivera said that the volume might start falling at the beginning of 2021, which will be good in terms of “administrative and customs procedures.” However, not much will change regarding the paperwork, as complex form-filling resulting from the separation between the EU bloc and the UK.
Chavaroche surmised that freight transport costs could rise by as much as 25 percent because of the new customs clearance procedures and further delays. He also said that new challenges concerning drivers’ possible shortage would arise given European drivers’ entry and exit restrictions.