The European Commission has given France and Britain two months to respond to a request to lower charges for passenger and freight trains to use the Channel Tunnel, or face possible court action, the Commission said on Thursday (June 20).

The Commission said the illegal high track access charges result in problems for both passengers of the high-speed Eurostar service and freight operators.

"The Commission has sent a formal request to France and the UK to take action to end excessive track access charging in the Channel Tunnel. These charges are against EU rules and operate the detriment of passengers and freight operators. Because of the excessive charges in the Channel Tunnel, passengers are paying over the odds for their tickets, freight operators and their customers are being overcharged and overall, the current regime is stifling growth in the rail sector," EU Commission spokeswoman Helen Kearns told a daily news conference in Brussels.

Tunnel operator Eurotunnel charges a reservation fee of 4,320 euros (£3,689) one way for Eurostar trains and 16.60 euros per passenger. EU officials said the charges should be roughly half that amount, and the excess meant only 43 percent of the tunnel's capacity is used.

Presented by Adam Justice