CHANNEL TUNNEL FREIGHT
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The contrast between road and rail freight from Britain into Europe could not be more stark.
If you have a lorry and a driver, you can collect a load and take it anywhere in Europe. You can cross the English Channel on a freight shuttle through the Channel Tunnel or on a ferry.
If you’re trying to move your load by rail - let’s say by container to make it easier - then you first find a rail freight operator to take it to the Channel Tunnel terminal at Dollands Moor. Here it will go through security checks (it might already have gone through these checks at the original UK terminal you used), and the locomotive and driver on the front of the train will change.
Your container will then be taken through the tunnel behind its new locomotive, which will then be detached in France. Your container might also be lifted onto a new wagon, because some wagons used in Britain cannot be used in Europe (particularly specialised ones capable of carrying 9ft 6in high standard containers on the UK’s small loading gauge).
With a new locomotive, new driver and new wagon, your container can then set off into Continental Europe. It may then be stopped (or not) at every border, for locomotive and driver to change.
This is because not every locomotive is allowed to work in every country, despite efforts at what’s called ‘homologation’ (that is, approving standard locomotives to work across borders). Different countries have different standards, particularly around signalling and the rules drivers need to know, but also around other aspects such as electrification voltages.
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