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The impacts of the Channel Tunnel on Kent

02.02.2005


As part of the assessment of the Channel Tunnel after ten years of operation, the Centre for European Regional and Transport Economics (CERTE) at the University of Kent was commissioned by Eurotunnel and Kent County Council to evaluate the impact of the Tunnel on Kent and the likely trends for the future. The results of this study have now been made available as a report.



The study, carried out by Roger Vickerman, Professor of European Economics and Director of CERTE, Alan Hay, Honorary Professor of Geography and research assistant Kate Meredith, examines the impacts on the construction sector, the transport sector and a range of other enterprises including manufacturing, tourism, retail and distribution, together with the impacts on population and settlements.

In comparison with estimates of impact made before the Tunnel was constructed, the report finds that in terms of both traffic and direct economic impacts the Tunnel has had a smaller impact on Kent than was predicted. However, this simple finding hides a much more complex story of change in patterns of mobility and in the cross-Channel market.


For the future, the report suggests that cross-Channel movement will be driven less by the exploitation of price differentials due to exchange rates and tax differentials and more by competition with more distant destinations. In this competition, congestion on the approaches to the Tunnel and the Dover Straits ports has a major role to play. However, much also depends on the ability of the European Union to implement fully the proposed packages on railway competition which would allow the Tunnel to exploit its full potential for through rail freight. Above all, however, the Tunnel led to the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link which is already having a major impact on Eurostar traffic to Paris and Brussels, but will in the future allow considerably improved rail services to London which will be much more significant in reducing the isolation of Ashford and East Kent.

The real impact of the Tunnel may be more likely to occur in its second decade than the first as businesses and individuals begin to adjust to the full potential of Kent’s unique location.

Gary Hughes | alfa
Further information:
http://www.kent.ac.uk

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