Travellers are opting to take their cars through the Channel Tunnel rather than fly. The latest figures show a much smaller slump for the vehicle-carrying shuttles than for air.
In July, passenger traffic between Folkestone and Calais on Eurotunnel was down barely one-fifth on the same month in the previous year.
On the last day of the month, an average of one private car every seven seconds was entering the terminal at either end of the link.
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The performance is particularly significant because, for the first nine days of July, anyone entering the UK from France was required to quarantine for two weeks – dampening demand for travel.
On Eurotunnel, drivers and passengers can stay in their vehicles while passing though the terminal at each end of the link, pausing only for passport checks before driving on to the shuttle train. They then remain in the vehicle during the 35-minute journey.
The service now brands itself: “The safer way to France.”
During July, Eurotunnel carried 233,172 vehicles – of which over 5 per cent were on the last day of the month, with 12,239 passenger vehicles loaded on board shuttles. That equates to one car every seven seconds.
For comparison, the main airlines flying from the UK – British Airways, easyJet, Jet2 and Ryanair – are operating below half of their planned services for the summer.
Overall, though, 2020 has proved a dismal year so far for Eurotunnel. Between January and July, passenger traffic was down by almost half,. while freight loads were down by one-sixth.
In a wider survey of transport modes conducted for The Independent, ferries were rated way ahead of other modes of transport as the preferred way to travel in the era of coronavirus.
The Twitter poll with over 6,600 votes showed support for ferries at 43 per cent, ahead of rail (which, includes Eurotunnel) at 29 per cent and air at 23 per cent.
Bus travel was favoured by only 5 per cent of self-selecting respondents.