EUROTUNNEL HAS entered talks with French train operator SNCF to build a dedicated rail freight network to Southern Europe and Germany.
Eurotunnel director of the railway services division Jim Evans said the company was in the 'early stages' of a feasibility study for the network which would start from the French side of the tunnel.
'We can't easily run 12,000t monster freight trains on a passenger railway - they don't live in the same world,' he said. 'We are looking at where the principal corridors are and whether we would have to build new lines or could get away with adoption and adaptation.'
Evans added that building new freight lines would cost much less than passenger lines because they could be 'fairly rough and ready' with a relatively simple signalling system.
SNCF confirmed that it was considering the proposal and that it already had plans to build 250km of new lines devoted to freight around major French cities.
'Our head of freight is hoping to build by-pass lines around Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux and Marseilles and between Montpelier and Beziers.