Increased yield helped boost revenue from shuttle services though the Channel Tunnel by 3% in 2017.

The shuttle rail services carried 2.6 million passengers and 1.64 million trucks.

Le Shuttle achieved an annual car market share of 54.9%, confirming once again its leadership in the cross channel market, according to Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel.

The pets service had another record year, with 331,372 animals transported, up 10% on 2016.

The Eurostar high speed passenger service carried more than 10.3 million passengers in 2017, buoyed by a record end to the year.

The return to traffic growth, the launch of Eurostar services between London and Amsterdam on April 4 and the prospect of services to other cities in France are further encouragement for future growth in this traffic, Eurotunnel said.

“The group follows developments relating to the exit of the UK from the European Union, and is pleased that negotiations have proceeded to the second stage and that a transition period with follow the exit on 29 March 2019,” Eurotunnel said.

“Analysis of economic forecasts for areas that are important for the group’s business – Greater London, Kent, western Europe – reinforces these fundamental strengths.

“The group is determined to grow traffic volumes through the tunnel whilst also increasing its margins.

“To do this, the group will pursue a commercial policy that is attractive through the quality of service, the digitalisation of processes and co-operation with railway operators, all whilst achieving targeted investments such as the enlargement of the terminals or the opening of the new Flexiplus lounge on the Folkestone terminal forecast for the first half of 2018.”

The company confirmed a 2018 annual earnings [ebitda] target of €545 million after profits rose by 6% to €526 million last year over 2016 based on a 4% increase in revenue to €1.033 billion.

Chairman and CEO Jacques Gounon said: “The group has seen its eighth consecutive year of growth and has had another excellent year from both operational and financial perspectives.

“The outlook for the years to come is equally positive notably for cash generation, enabling the group to commit to a dividend increase of €0.05 per year for the next few years.”