The U.K. Competition Commission said Eurotunnel, the operator of the subsea rail link to France, must abandon its roll-on, roll-off shipping service between the two countries.
In a final ruling, the commission said that if Eurotunnel continued to run the MyFerryLink service, it would increase the firm’s share of the cross-Channel market to more than 50 percent and lead to higher freight rates and passenger fares.
Paris-based Eurotunnel said it would “immediately” appeal the ruling, which it called “incomprehensible and seriously disproportionate.”
Eurotunnel entered the Dover-Calais route, the world’s busiest ro-ro market, in August, after paying £65 million ($100 million) for three ships previously operated by the bankrupt SeaFrance group — a subsidiary of SNCF, France’s state-owned railway.
The Competition Commission said Eurotunnel bought the vessels to prevent them being acquired by a joint venture between Denmark’s DFDS-LD Lines of France.
“It cannot be good for competition when Eurotunnel, which already holds a market share of 40 percent, moves into the ferry business — particularly when it did so to stop a competitor from buying the ferries,” said Alasdair Smith, deputy chairman of the Competition Commission.
The commission said that if it did not stop Eurotunnel’s shipping service, it “seems likely” one of the current ferry lines — DFDS Seaways and P&O Ferries — would be forced out of the Dover-Calais route in the near future.
The number of trucks using Eurotunnel’s subsea rail shuttles grew 16 percent to 1.46 million in 2012, boosting its share of the U.K.-France market by 5 percent to record 43.5 percent.
The cross-Channel truck market, which is also served by the ferries, grew around 2.5 percent in 2012 but remains 10 percent below the pre-recession peak in 2007.