Paris-based company Getlink, which operates the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle service, is planning to buy passenger trains to rival Eurostar in creating services between Folkestone and Calais.
Getlink intends to rent out the trains to partners, with Spanish rail company Renfe in advanced talks with the group.
Jacques Gounon, president of Getlink, said yesterday (March 18) that services could be in circulation by 2026, depending on the company’s financial situation.
Eurostar is currently the only company offering a passenger rail service through the Channel Tunnel. It does not have a monopoly on this line but has never had a competitor since it started service in 1994.
Getlink has been looking into the idea of rivalling Eurostar for several years.
Mr Gounon, speaking at a press conference, said that he was aiming to carry two to three million extra passengers per year through the Channel Tunnel, a 20% increase on pre-Covid traffic levels.
He wants 10 trains doing four to five round trips each day.
"I need passengers, I need trucks and I need freight trains," he said, saying he was "totally confident" in the recovery of the company, which was hit hard by the Covid pandemic after the uncertainty of Brexit.
Getlink posted net losses of €229 million in 2021 and €113 million in 2020.