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Mo Chunnel aid, goys Ferries' chief

28th June 1980, Page 21
28th June 1980
Page 21
Page 21, 28th June 1980 — Mo Chunnel aid, goys Ferries' chief
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

I BELIEVE it would not be possible to raise funds for a fixed hannel link without state investment of one kind or anther." So said Keith Wickenden, MP, chairman of European orgies Ltd.

Giving evidence at the House f Commons Channel link inuiry, Mr Wickenden suggested iat Government should conantrate on other things and let idustry develop on its own: "If Government money is vailable, it should be put to 3ore socially desirable use. It is not a big enough market to support borrowings," he claimed.

Although Mr Wickenden admits that he has not seen British Rail's economic forecasts, he is clearly against the current proposals. The idea of a bridge would present a "serious navigational danger", and a tunnel could be claustrophobic for passengers and industrial action could be disastrous.

Mr Wickenden felt that a Laker-style skytrain service would come into operation over the next few years which will put ferries at a disadvantage but would also make existing operators review their policies and prices in the face of competiton.

There has been a rapid growth of ro-ro traffic over the last few years, although the growth is now showing signs of slowing down — "perhaps even declining," says Mr Wickenden.

"Freight transport goes wherever is cheapest," was how Mr Wickenden summed up the needs of the industry.

Although he agreed that a tunnel would be good for foot passengers (passengers without vehicles who could travel by train from city to city), that market alone was not big enough to finance such a tunnel.

If there had to be a tunnel, the 1972 proposals for a twin tunnel with rapid rail links between London and Paris are preferable, said Mr Wickenden. But whether there is a tunnel or not, rail links in Kent must be improved, he concluded.