U.K., FRENCH INDUSTRY GROUPS CALL FOR SECURITY AT FRETHUN TERMINAL
International rail freight between the United Kingdom and France is in jeopardy unless effective measures are taken to protect the Calias-Frethun terminal from the influx of illegal immigrants, two industry groups told Jean-Claude Gayssot, French transport minister, in a joint letter.
The U.K. Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the French Association des Utilisateurs de Transport de Fret (AUTF) noted that security against illegal immigrants at Frethun have become a major problem. However, rail freight services from France to the United Kingdom have been severely cut, down to five or less trains per day. That has resulted in freight reverting to truck, and threatens the viability of rail traffic.
'While we are aware that the task of securing the site is ongoing, and will not come to an end for several months, it is nevertheless essential that traffic begins to move again before the end of the year,' the letter said.
The letter was signed by David Mathew, chairman of FTA's rail freight council, and Georges Di Lallo, president of the AUTF rail commission.
Separately, the FTA called for the French government to ensure that adequate temporary security measures are put in place 'both physical barriers and increased personnel,' said Sarah Watkins, FTA's rail freight expert.
'Unless swift action is taken, this problem is likely to dent confidence in rail freight and undermine policies to shift freight from road to rail,' Watkins said. 'It is ironic that one of the primary reasons for construction of the rail link between the U.K. and France, the movement of freight by rail, is being threatened by the failure of the security forces to control the activities of asylum seekers.'
The FTA said it is also writing European Union Commissioner Loyola de Palacio to express its views of the French government's responsibility under EU law to ensure the free movement of goods. FTA representatives also met earlier with U.K. Transport Minister John Spellar to address the problem.