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Eurotunnel wins SeaFrance fight

Tribunal backs Chunnel firm's bid to buy cross-Channel ferries and restart Dover-Calais route

CHANNEL Tunnel firm EuroTunnel has been given the green light to buy three ferries from bankrupt Dover-Calais ferry firm SeaFrance in a €65 million deal.

SeaFrance collapsed under debts thought to be around €150m and took with it 880 jobs in France and 130 in the UK.

Now Eurotunnel will lease the ferries back to a cooperative of former SeaFrance staff and they will return to sea under a French flag and save the jobs of 560 in the Calais area.

No date has yet been set for the restart of crossings.

Eurotunnel boss Jacques Gounon sees the new SeaFrance Scop company providing a complementary service to that using the Tunnel. Ferries would take a greater proportion of freight than under SeaFrance and would be able to carry cargo that is banned under the Channel - such as inflammable liquids.

The ferries - the Berlioz, Rodin and Nord Pas de Calais - would also be able to offer low, attractive pricing to coaches, which Eurotunnel cannot.

In February rival firms LD Lines and DFDS launched a new Dover-Calais service, employing more than 100 former SeaFrance staff.

* Eurotunnely is celebrating a new record service over the period of the Queen's Jubilee in the UK after its Le Shuttle carried 10,508 tourist vehicles last Friday. The previous one-day record was 9,382 in July 2010.

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