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June 01, 2010

Eurotunnel acquires British railfreight operator

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EUROTUNNEL is set for another major expansion of its railfreight business following the announcement that it has acquired Britain's third-largest operator First GBRf from FirstGroup for £31 million.

The move follows Eurotunnel's takeover of Veolia Cargo's French operations last year, which has given the company a 3% share of the French railfreight market. Eurotunnel CEO Mr Jacques Gounon says the acquisition of GBRf will give the company a similar share of the British market.

Like Veolia Cargo, GBRf will be incorporated into Eurotunnel's Europorte 2 subsidiary, which says it can now offer customers a comprehensive cross-Channel railfreight service.

GBRf won its first contract in April 2000 and has grown steadily over the last decade to become a profitable business employing nearly 300 staff with revenues of £56 million last year. The company is active in intermodal and bulk markets including coal, gypsum, petrochemicals and metallurgical products. It also operates infrastructure trains for Network Rail and has a passenger license, providing crews for First Great Western.

GBRf became part of FirstGroup in 2004 as part of the sale of GB Railways, although it has remained FirstGroup's sole railfreight operation.
Photo: Keith Fender

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