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Friday, July 24, 1998 Published at 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK


Business: The Company File

World Cup boost for Eurotunnel

Eurotunnel coach traffic was up for the World Cup

Eurotunnel, the company that runs the Channel Tunnel, has shown a strong growth in traffic for the second quarter of 1998.

The company said business was boosted by the World Cup as English fans travelled to France.

Traffic on Le Shuttle, which carries cars and lorries via a rail shuttle service, was up 75% for cars and 80% for coaches in the period.

Freight, which is carried in separate, open carriages, increased by 32%.

Last year's figures were down because of the fire in November l996 which caused the tunnel to be partially closed.

Nevertheless the figures - which include 834,000 cars carried during the period - show why it was necessary for the cross-channel ferries to merge their operations.

Last spring P&O and Stena combined their schedules for the shorter channel crossings.

The figures also offered reassurance to the long-suffering creditors of Eurotunnel which has been burdened by a large overhang of bank debt.

Its shares were diluted when the banks took an equity share in the firm in part payment for its outstanding debt.

Chairman Patrick Ponsolle said the figures meant Eurotunnel was on track to eventually return to profitability:

"It reinforces my confidence in our ability to achieve our operating profit target for 1998," he said.

Turnover was up from £94m to £146m for the quarter.



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