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Friday, November 13, 1998 Published at 13:23 GMT

Business: The Company File

Eurotunnel prices to soar

Eurotunnel is to lose out on duty free sales next June

The cost of taking your car to continental Europe is set to soar.

BBC Transport Correspondent Christopher Wain: Dispute over pay and the recognition of ASLEF
Eurotunnel, which operates the Channel Tunnel, is to increase fares next summer by 25%.

News of the rise came as Eurotunnel drivers announced a series of one-day strikes in the Christmas run-up to press their demands for higher pay.

Drivers are demanding an increase from £17,200 to £24,000.

Midnight strike

Aslef members, which the union says includes most of the 99 train drivers, voted overwhelmingly to hold 24-hour strikes on November 23, December 2, 9 and 15, starting at one minute past midnight.

Michael Rix, Aslef's general secretary said: "We deeply regret the inconvenience which will be caused to the travelling public, caused by Eurotunnel's refusal to negotiate an acceptable pay award."

Demise of the discount

The company said next year's fare rise would offset the loss in duty free sales.

The European Union plans to abolish duty free sales at the end of next June.

That will put an end to huge discounts on cigarettes and alcohol on offer at Eurotunnel's duty free shops.

The fare for a car travelling through the tunnel next July and August will rise to £279 compared to £220 last summer.

All at sea

[ image: Bargain fares could be coming to an end]
Bargain fares could be coming to an end
Eurotunnel's move could mark the end of cut price fares between the UK and continental Europe.

Ferry operators and Eurotunnel have been engaged in a bitter price war ever since the Channel Tunnel was opened in 1994.

But the loss of duty free revenues is likely to lead to fare increases.

Not all bad news

However it is not all bad news. Passenger travelling before the summer rush can expect to pay lower fares.

Eurotunnnel is cutting prices between January and March.

Details of the new fares will be published on Eurotunnel's Internet site.

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