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Monday, 10 February, 2003, 11:56 GMT
Eurotunnel's 4m 'asylum bill'
Border control
Eurotunnel has increased security in France
Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel says it spent 4m last year preventing asylum seekers coming to Britain.

Reporting its full year results, Eurotunnel said the money was required to stop people boarding trains and entering the tunnel.

But the closure of the Sangatte centre in France had almost eliminated the problem, it added.

Overall, Eurotunnel reported a net profit and a 6% growth in revenue from its shuttle services to European cities, including Paris and Brussels.

Refugees at the Channel Tunnel
More than 50,000 asylum seekers tried to enter the tunnel illegally in 2001
The company said net profits were 302m in 2002 compared with a loss of 132m the previous year.

Costs remained at 249m, the same as 2001, with a 33% rise in the cost of stopping asylum seekers from disrupting services.

Eurotunnel chief executive Richard Shirrefs said: "Action has finally been taken resulting in the closure of the Sangatte centre at the end of the year, and a firm reimposition of public order in the area.

"As a result, attempted incursions have all but stopped.

"Our own security levels, which allowed us to protect our services from disruption throughout 2002, remain high, but it is imperative that the governments continue to maintain public order."

Eurostar
Eurostar complained about disruption
Eurotunnel has been hit by the global economic slowdown and traffic levels are well below what was expected.

But it hopes the UK high-speed line, to be completed in late 2003, will stimulate growth for Eurostar.

Mr Shirrefs said he was confident Eurotunnel's market position made it likely it would benefit from an upturn in the market.

Eurotunnel operates its own rail service through the tunnel, carrying cars, trucks and coaches.

Service disruption

Passenger train company Eurostar and other freight companies pay Eurotunnel for use of the route.

The rail companies have objected to the asylum seeker problem as having an impact on their services.

During 2001, it was estimated that 54,000 people tried to enter the tunnel illegally or stow away.

That led to Eurotunnel increasing security measures around the French terminal.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"Eurotunnel said today that the flow of asylum seekers had all but stopped"

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10 Feb 03 | Politics
10 Feb 03 | Politics
10 Feb 03 | Politics
08 Jan 03 | Politics
14 Dec 02 | Europe
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