The Secretary of State for Transport and Eurotunnel are both signatories to the 1986 Concession Agreement for the channel tunnel. The terms of this agreement oblige Eurotunnel to make agreements with other rail companies in accordance with the Provisions of the Treaty of Canterbury and the Concession Agreement.
In 1987 the British Railways Board (BRB) and the French national railway (SNCF) entered into a joint long-term usage contract (Channel Tunnel Usage Agreement) (also referred to as the Railways Usage Contract or RUC) with Eurotunnel. This contract—which defines the arrangements for the operation of both rail passenger and rail freight services through the channel tunnel—runs to 2052.
The UK Government’s responsibilities with respect to the channel tunnel rail freight are principally derived from BRB’s continuing obligations as formal signatory to the RUC, and from supplementary agreements to the RUC that were implemented to enable the privatisation of BRB’s international freight (and passenger) businesses. These were legally transferred to the Strategic Rail Authority in 2001 and subsequently transferred to DfT Rail in August 2005.