Eurotunnel buys rail freight company

Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel has snapped up the UK's third biggest rail freight firm in a £31 million deal.

Eurotunnel's move for GB Railfreight - which has been owned by transport firm FirstGroup since 2003 - comes as the firm looks to improve rail freight volumes through the tunnel, which suffered in the recession.

GB Railfreight is the second major UK player in the sector to change hands in recent years after Germany's Deutsche Bahn bought rival EWS in 2007.

Eurotunnel chairman Jacques Gounon said the deal was "a further expression of our commitment to the UK".

"Growing concerns about the environment and the increasing need for freight transport over both long and short distances mean that rail freight is a growing market," he added.

Eurotunnel's rail freight subsidiary is called Europorte. Julian Smith of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which provided financial advice on the deal, commented: "This is a great deal for rail freight customers in Great Britain and for anyone who wants to see more freight going by rail. Now Europorte has substantial activities on both sides of the Channel it will be much easier to arrange transport from the continent."

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