The third quarter is a source of great satisfaction:
• For the Channel Tunnel Concession, we set a new all-time record for passenger vehicle transport, with 563,750 cars carried on Le Shuttle between 17 July and 3 September and
138,774 trucks carried in September (the third quarter figures are overleaf).
Even more satisfying was that the stepup in quality with the new W i l l i a m T u r n e r FLexiplus lounge in Coquelles that we opened in July, has been widely appreciated. We have seen a 25% increase in usage. We are now waiting impatiently for the completion
of the Folkestone lounge in March next year. Eurostar traffic has also held up well, with growth of 4% mainly driven by overseas visitors and business travellers. This bodes well for the opening of the future London-Amsterdam link.
• Europorte continues to develop and is now the only successful French company in the rail freight sector, despite competition from Fret SNCF, which is incurring significant losses (€314M in 2016) and whose financial situation is having a negative impact on the market. But the French Government has just launched a project to “reset” the national railway system, which should ensure objectives to substantially reduce losses. Commercial competition can only benefit from this, with new opportunities for growth in this environmentally-friendly transport mode.
• ElecLink construction is on time and on budget. The works on the substation foundations have been completed and Siemens has started the superstructures. Balfour Beatty has begun to install the cable supports inside the rail tunnel during the nights of planned maintenance: in parallel with this, are the ongoing safety studies, conducted by independent specialists, which
will ensure that the cable installation can begin in the spring of 2018. The Group, which takes the safety of people as its absolute priority, has always chosen, for this project as for all others, to call upon the leading experts in order to identify every possible risk.
With regard to Brexit, the negotiations between the UK and the European Union are the subject of a profusion of commentaries, both political and from different lobbyists. Many industries hope for a two-year transition period during which EU legislation would
continue to apply to the UK and during which EU citizens could continue to settle in the UK, on condition that they register first.This approach would mean that the UK would d e f a c t o remain in the single market with the continuation of free movement and for European citizens to settle for a further two years, that is until 2021.
We are following these evolutions closely and are in constant contact with all the parties involved in the discussions to ensure they understand that the Tunnel carries one quarter of all UK trade with Europe, representing hundreds of thousands of jobs on both sides of the Channel. We are also ensuring that they recognise something that may seem evident but which is often forgotten: that the Tunnel is a land border with the Continent, which sets it apart, somewhat like the Republic of Ireland.
In financial terms, we continue to progress unperturbed, with revenues of €783M for the first nine months of the year, an increase of 3% compared to 2016 (see details overleaf). As we
have already said, this demonstrates how well the Fixed Link is positioned in the high contribution segments and that it has the flexibility to adapt fast to any situation. The official forecasts for growth in both the UK and Europe, which are about 1.7-1.8%,
would continue to provide us with sufficiently dynamic markets.
A weak pound attracts tourists to London, as seen in the Eurostar figures. An increase in inflation in the UK would ease any increase in fares and an increase in interest rates in the UK, leading to a strengthening of the pound, would also work in our favour.
Finally the French Government has been told to reimburse companies for the 3% tax it has applied since 2012 on the payment of dividends, which would represent €13M for the Group.
The Group no longer bears any resemblance to what it was 10 years ago. The debt is long term, balanced to its financial capacity and has recently been partially refinanced under
favourable conditions. The Group has undergone a period of profound transformation and continuous growth, with a high level of commitment from its staff, focussed on its customer
service and its shareholders. It is, today, in a position of strength in three complementary sectors and able to draw on the knowhow developed from its experience with an exceptional piece of infrastructure. It gives us confidence for the future.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer