© Oleksandr Kozachok | Dreamstime.com

Major investments are being ploughed into European rail freight infrastructure, including in the UK, despite the latest Channel Tunnel results indicating still-declining volumes.

GetLink, which operates UK Channel Tunnel rail freight services, recorded a 23% year-on-year downturn in truck traffic for the three months to June, indicating a deteriorating situation after movements fell 14% in Q1, showing year-to-date figures at 19% below those in 2022.

The company noted: “Truck traffic was penalised by an unfavourable base effect due to capacity reductions in the short straits. This follows the massive redundancies carried out by P&O in Q2 22 against a backdrop of a relative slowdown in UK household consumption.”

The figures from GetLink were followed by announcements from both the French and UK governments on major spending plans for intermodal infrastructure.

At the end of July, UK Export Finance (UKEF) agreed to partner with BNP, ING and JP Morgan to provide some €781m to finance a high-speed 286 km electric rail connection in southern Turkey, connecting its second-largest box port, Mersin, with the cities of Adana, Osmaniye and Gaziantep.

UK minister for exports Malcom Offord said: “UK exports to Turkey reached £8.5bn and we announced an updated trade deal to further boost exports and imports between our countries. UK Export Finance’s backing for this transformative high-speed railway adds to this success story.

“This deal shows that the UK, home to the world’s first railway system, still moves full steam ahead with its export of railroad innovation and expertise.”

Conditional to UK exporters supplying the project, it is hoped the funds will generate major opportunities for the UK’s infrastructure, engineering and project management sectors, said the minister, while JP Morgan global head of export and agency finance John Meakin sees other perks.

“This project is expected to reduce traffic congestion on the motorways and promote more sustainable transport in the region,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Railways (UZ) announced this morning it had secured a €6.7m grant from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support continuing operations across its freight services amid the war with Russia.

Originally marked for a modernisation project to electrify and upgrade rail infrastructure, the EIB agreed to repurpose the funds.

And there was also news this week that France is to lend €37.6m to assist the country in repairing damaged tracks.

Anton Mishyn, a board member of JSC Ukrainian Railways, noted: “The support from our partners for Ukrainian Railways and Ukrainians is more important than ever; we appreciate the EU and the EIB’s prompt response to our needs.

“This is crucial to maintain our liquidity, restore enemy-damaged infrastructure and ensure the sustainable operation of the railways.”

Mr Mishyn said he expected to see “a number of new integration infrastructure projects” following the end of the conflict.