30 July 1998

Jonathan Sloggett, Managing Director, Dover Harbour Board

There is a report in The Times that the Deputy Prime Minister is pressing for a three-fold rise in the volume of freight traffic through the Channel Tunnel.

Mr Prescott's commitment to increasing the volume of rail-borne freight traffic and to developing a coherent network of integrated services offers real hope for reducing congestion, cutting pollution and easing vital trade routes; but it is essential that we ensure the capacity to meet this objective.

Forecasts show that if government policy is successful extra cross-Channel through-rail freight capacity will be needed within the next 10-15 years. The most cost-effective means of providing this is to include Dover in the proposed rail freight highway - a seven-mile stretch which would provide a second "through-rail" link at a fraction of the cost of a second fixed tunnel link or even of the Government's current contribution to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

The new finance deal for the CTRL is an adroit manoeuvre by the Deputy Prime Minister and is to be warmly welcomed. It should not be forgotten, however, that it was required as a result of bad planning and policymaking in previous years. It would be nice to think that we might learn from the mistake.

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