The CHANNEL TUNNEL (French: Le tunnel sous la Manche; also nicknamed
CHUNNEL) is a 50.45-kilometre (31.35 mi) rail tunnel linking
Folkestone , Kent, in the United Kingdom, with
Calais in northern France, beneath the English
Channel at the
Strait of Dover . At its lowest point, it is 75 m (250
ft) deep below the sea bed, and 115 m (380 ft) below sea level. At
37.9 kilometres (23.5 mi), the tunnel has the longest undersea portion
of any tunnel in the world, although the Seikan
Tunnel in Japan is
both longer overall at 53.85 kilometres (33.46 mi) and deeper at 240
metres (790 ft) below sea level. The speed limit for trains in the
tunnel is 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph).
The tunnel carries high-speed
Eurostar passenger trains, the
Eurotunnel Shuttle for road vehicles—the largest such transport in
the world —and international goods trains . The tunnel connects
end-to-end with the
LGV Nord and
High Speed 1
High Speed 1 high-speed railway
Ideas for a cross-Channel fixed link appeared as early as 1802, but
British political and press pressure over the compromising of national
security stalled attempts to construct a tunnel. An early attempt at
building a Channel
Tunnel was made in the late 19th century, on the
English side "in the hope of forcing the hand of the English
Government". The eventual successful project , organised by
Eurotunnel , began construction in 1988 and opened in 1994. At £5.5
billion (1985 prices), it was at the time the most expensive
construction project ever proposed. The cost finally came in at £9
billion ($21 billion), well over its predicted budget.
Since its construction, the tunnel has faced a few mechanical
problems. Both fires and cold weather have temporarily disrupted its
Illegal immigrants have attempted to use the tunnel to enter the UK
since 1997, creating the ongoing issue of the Migrants around Calais
on the French side, causing both diplomatic disagreement, as well as
* 1 Origins
* 1.1 Earlier proposals
* 1.2 Initiation of project
* 1.3 Arrangement
* 1.4 Construction
* 1.5 Completion
* 2 Engineering
* 2.1 Geology
* 2.2 Surveying
* 2.3 Tunnelling
* 2.4 Railway design
* 2.4.1 Communications
* 2.4.2 Power supply
* 2.4.3 Signalling
* 2.4.4 Track system
* 2.4.5 Ventilation, cooling and drainage
* 2.5 Rolling stock
* 2.5.2 Freight locomotives
* 2.5.3 International passenger
* 2.5.4 Service locomotives
* 3 Operation
* 3.1 Usage and services
* 3.1.1 Passenger traffic volumes
* 3.1.2 Freight traffic volumes
* 3.1.3 Economic performance
* 3.1.4 Security
* 4 Terminals
* 5 Regional impact
* 6 Unauthorized immigration
* 6.1 Diplomatic efforts
* 6.2 Deaths
* 7 Mechanical incidents
* 7.1 Fires
* 7.3 Safety
* 8 Unusual traffic
* 9 Mobile network coverage
* 10 Other (non-transport) services
* 11 Channel
Tunnel in popular culture
* 12 See also
* 13 References
* 14 Sources
* 15 Further reading
* 16 External links
Key dates * 1802: Albert Mathieu put forward a cross-Channel tunnel
* 1875: The Channel
Tunnel Company Ltd began preliminary trials
* 1882: The Abbot's Cliff heading had reached 897 yards (820 m) and
Shakespeare Cliff was 2,040 yards (1,870 m) in length
* JANUARY 1975: A UK–
France government-backed scheme, that started
in 1974, was cancelled
* FEBRUARY 1986:The
Treaty of Canterbury was signed, allowing the
project to proceed
* JUNE 1988: First tunnelling commenced in France
* DECEMBER 1988: UK TBM commenced operation
* DECEMBER 1990: Service tunnel broke through under the Channel
* MAY 1994:
Tunnel formally opened by Queen
Elizabeth II and
* MID-1994: Freight and passenger trains commenced operation
* NOVEMBER 1996: Fire in a lorry shuttle severely damaged the tunnel
* NOVEMBER 2007:
High Speed 1
High Speed 1 , linking London to the tunnel, opened
* SEPTEMBER 2008: Another fire in a lorry shuttle severely damaged
* DECEMBER 2009:
Eurostar trains stranded in the tunnel due to
melting snow affecting the trains' electrical hardware
* NOVEMBER 2011: First commercial freight service run on High Speed
In 1802, Albert Mathieu-Favier, a French mining engineer, put forward
a proposal to tunnel under the English Channel, with illumination from
oil lamps, horse-drawn coaches, and an artificial island positioned
mid-Channel for changing horses. Mathieu-Favier's design envisaged a
bored two-level tunnel with the top tunnel used for transport and the
bottom one for groundwater flows.
Aimé Thomé de Gamond , a Frenchman, performed the first
geological and hydrographical surveys on the Channel, between Calais
and Dover. Thomé de Gamond explored several schemes and, in 1856, he
presented a proposal to
Napoleon III for a mined railway tunnel from
Gris-Nez to Eastwater Point with a port/airshaft on the Varne
sandbank at a cost of 170 million francs , or less than £7 million.
Thomé de Gamond's plan of 1856 for a cross-Channel link, with a
port/airshaft on the
Varne sandbank mid-Channel
In 1865, a deputation led by
George Ward Hunt proposed the idea of a
tunnel to the
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day, William Ewart
Around 1866, William Low and Sir
John Hawkshaw promoted ideas, but
apart from preliminary geological studies none were implemented. An
official Anglo-French protocol was established in 1876 for a
cross-Channel railway tunnel. In 1881, the British railway
Edward Watkin and Alexandre Lavalley, a French Suez
Canal contractor, were in the Anglo-French Submarine Railway Company
that conducted exploratory work on both sides of the Channel. On the
English side a 2.13-metre (7 ft) diameter Beaumont-English boring
machine dug a 1,893-metre (6,211 ft) pilot tunnel from Shakespeare
Cliff . On the French side, a similar machine dug 1,669 m (5,476 ft)
Sangatte . The project was abandoned in May 1882, owing to
British political and press campaigns asserting that a tunnel would
compromise Britain's national defences. These early works were
encountered more than a century later during the TML project.
In 1919, during the Paris Peace Conference , the British prime
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George , repeatedly brought up the idea of a
Channel tunnel as a way of reassuring
France about British willingness
to defend against another German attack. The French did not take the
idea seriously, and nothing came of Lloyd George's proposal.
In the 1920s
Winston Churchill was an advocate for the Channel
Tunnel, using that exact nomenclature in an essay entitled "Should
Strategists Veto The Tunnel?" The essay was published on 27 July 1924
in the Weekly Dispatch , and argued vehemently against those that
believed the tunnel could be used by a Continental enemy in an
invasion of Britain. Churchill extolled his enthusiasm for the project
again in an article for the
Daily Mail on 12 February 1936, "Why Not A
There was another proposal in 1929, but nothing came of this
discussion and the idea was shelved. Proponents estimated construction
to be about US$150 million. The engineers had addressed the concerns
of both nations' military leaders by designing two sumps —one near
the coast of each country—that could be flooded at will to block the
tunnel. This design feature did not override the concerns of both
nations' military leaders, and other concerns about hordes of
undesirable tourists who would disrupt English habits of living.
Military fears continued during the Second World War . After the fall
France , as Britain prepared for an expected German invasion , a
Royal Navy officer in the Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons
Development calculated that Hitler could use slave labour to build two
Channel tunnels in 18 months. The estimate caused rumours that Germany
had already begun digging.
A British film from Gaumont Studios , The
Tunnel (also called
TransAtlantic Tunnel), was released in 1935 as a futuristic science
fiction project concerning the creation of a transatlantic tunnel. It
referred briefly to its protagonist, a Mr. McAllan, as having
completed a British Channel tunnel successfully in 1940, five years
into the future of the film's release.
By 1955, defence arguments had become less relevant due to the
dominance of air power, and both the British and French governments
supported technical and geological surveys. In 1958 the 1881 workings
were cleared in preparation for a £100,000 geological survey by the
Tunnel Study Group. 30% of the funding came from the Channel
Tunnel Co Ltd, the largest shareholder of which was the British
Transport Commission , as successor to the South Eastern Railway . A
detailed geological survey was carried out in 1964–65.
Although the two countries agreed to build a tunnel in 1964, the
phase 1 initial studies and signing of a second agreement to cover
phase 2 took until 1973. Construction work of this government-funded
project to create two tunnels designed to accommodate car shuttle
wagons on either side of a service tunnel started on both sides of the
Channel in 1974.
On 20 January 1975, to the dismay of their French partners, the
now-governing Labour Party in Britain cancelled the project due to
uncertainty about EEC membership, doubling cost estimates and the
general economic crisis at the time. By this time the British tunnel
boring machine was ready and the Ministry of Transport was able to do
a 300 m (980 ft) experimental drive. This short tunnel was reused as
the starting and access point for tunnelling operations from the
British side. The cancellation costs were estimated to be £17
Opposition to the tunnel over the decades reflected the high value
the British placed on their insularity, and their preference for
imperial links that they controlled directly. Only after the British
Empire collapsed in the 1950s, and air travel replaced sea travel,
could they appreciate the desirability of closer ties to the
continent. With opposition fading, the government could more
carefully consider the long-term economic and strategic value, and the
new sense of a European identity. The British government's attitude
toward a tunnel changed from hostility in 1948 to acceptance and
promotion in 1964. This change reflected not only a more favourable
view of being part of European unity, but also the calculation that
the tunnel would provide economic advantages, especially if Britain
ever joined the European Economic Community. By the 1960s, British
attitudes toward the tunnel also reflected a realistic reappraisal of
the country's international status: after Suez 1956 everyone realized
the islands were no longer a super-power. Britain's prestige and
security now seemed safest when tied closely to the continent.
INITIATION OF PROJECT
See also: Premiership of
Margaret Thatcher § Channel
In 1979, the "Mouse-hole Project" was suggested when the
Conservatives came to power in Britain. The concept was a single-track
rail tunnel with a service tunnel, but without shuttle terminals. The
British government took no interest in funding the project, but
Margaret Thatcher , the prime minister, said she had no objection to a
privately funded project. In 1981 Thatcher and
François Mitterrand ,
the French president, agreed to establish a working group to evaluate
a privately funded project. In June 1982 the Franco-British study
group favoured a twin tunnel to accommodate conventional trains and a
vehicle shuttle service. In April 1985 promoters were invited to
submit scheme proposals. Four submissions were shortlisted:
* a rail proposal based on the 1975 scheme presented by Channel
Tunnel Group/France–Manche (CTG/F–M),
* Eurobridge: a 4.5 km (2.8 mi) span suspension bridge with a
roadway in an enclosed tube
* Euroroute: a 21 km (13 mi) tunnel between artificial islands
approached by bridges, and
* Channel Expressway: large diameter road tunnels with mid-channel
The cross-Channel ferry industry protested under the name
"Flexilink". In 1975 there was no campaign protesting against a fixed
link, with one of the largest ferry operators (Sealink) being
state-owned. Flexilink continued rousing opposition throughout 1986
and 1987. Public opinion strongly favoured a drive-through tunnel,
but ventilation issues, concerns about accident management, and fear
of driver mesmerisation led to the only shortlisted rail submission,
CTG/F-M, being awarded the project in January 1986. Among reasons
given for the selection was that it caused least disruption to
shipping in the Channel, least environmental disruption, was the best
protected against terrorism, and was the most likely to attract
sufficient private finance.
A block diagram describing the organisation structure used on
Eurotunnel is the central organisation for construction
and operation (via a concession) of the tunnel
The British Channel
Tunnel Group consisted of two banks and five
construction companies, while their French counterparts,
France–Manche, consisted of three banks and five construction
companies. The role of the banks was to advise on financing and secure
loan commitments. On 2 July 1985, the groups formed Channel Tunnel
Group/France–Manche (CTG/F–M). Their submission to the British and
French governments was drawn from the 1975 project, including 11
volumes and a substantial environmental impact statement.
The design and construction was done by the ten construction
companies in the CTG/F-M group. The French terminal and boring from
Sangatte was undertaken by the five French construction companies in
the joint venture group GIE Transmanche Construction. The English
Terminal and boring from
Shakespeare Cliff was undertaken by the five
British construction companies in the Translink Joint Venture. The two
partnerships were linked by
TransManche Link (TML), a bi-national
project organisation. The Maître d'Oeuvre was a supervisory
engineering body employed by
Eurotunnel under the terms of the
concession that monitored project activity and reported back to the
governments and banks.
In France, with its long tradition of infrastructure investment, the
project garnered widespread approval. In April the French National
Assembly gave unanimous support and, in June 1987, after a public
inquiry, the Senate gave unanimous support. In Britain, select
committees examined the proposal, making history by holding hearings
away from Westminster, in Kent. In February 1987, the third reading of
Tunnel Bill took place in the House of Commons , and was
carried by 94 votes to 22. The Channel
Tunnel Act gained Royal assent
and passed into law in July. Parliamentary support for the project
came partly from provincial members of Parliament on the basis of
promises of regional
Eurostar through train services that never
materialised; the promises were repeated in 1996 when the contract for
construction of the Channel
Tunnel Rail Link was awarded.
The tunnel is a build-own-operate-transfer (
BOOT ) project with a
concession. TML would design and build the tunnel, but financing was
through a separate legal entity, Eurotunnel.
CTG/F-M and signed a construction contract with TML, but the British
and French governments controlled final engineering and safety
decisions, now in the hands of the Channel
Tunnel Safety Authority .
The British and French governments gave
Eurotunnel a 55-year operating
concession (from 1987; extended by 10 years to 65 years in 1993) to
repay loans and pay dividends. A Railway Usage Agreement was signed
British Rail and
SNCF guaranteeing future revenue
in exchange for the railways obtaining half of the tunnel's capacity.
Private funding for such a complex infrastructure project was of
unprecedented scale. An initial equity of £45 million was raised by
CTG/F-M, increased by £206 million private institutional placement,
£770 million was raised in a public share offer that included press
and television advertisements, a syndicated bank loan and letter of
credit arranged £5 billion. Privately financed, the total investment
costs at 1985 prices were £2600 million. At the 1994 completion
actual costs were, in 1985 prices, £4650 million: an 80% cost overrun
. The cost overrun was partly due to enhanced safety, security, and
environmental demands. Financing costs were 140% higher than
Working from both the English side and the French side of the
Channel, eleven tunnel boring machines or TBMs cut through chalk marl
to construct two rail tunnels and a service tunnel. The vehicle
shuttle terminals are at Cheriton (part of
Folkestone ) and Coquelles,
and are connected to the English M20 and French A16 motorways
Tunnelling commenced in 1988, and the tunnel began operating in 1994.
In 1985 prices, the total construction cost was £ 4.650 billion
(equivalent to £13 billion in 2015), an 80% cost overrun. At the peak
of construction 15,000 people were employed with daily expenditure
over £3 million. Ten workers, eight of them British, were killed
during construction between 1987 and 1993, most in the first few
months of boring.
Class 319 EMUs ran excursions trips into the tunnel from
Sandling railway station on 7 May 1994, the first passenger trains to
A two-inch (50-mm) diameter pilot hole allowed the service tunnel to
break through without ceremony on 30 October 1990. On 1 December
1990, Englishman Graham Fagg and Frenchman Phillippe Cozette broke
through the service tunnel with the media watching. Eurotunnel
completed the tunnel on time, and it was officially opened, one year
later than originally planned, by Queen
Elizabeth II and the French
François Mitterrand , in a ceremony held in
Calais on 6
May 1994. The Queen travelled through the tunnel to
Calais on a
Eurostar train, which stopped nose to nose with the train that carried
President Mitterrand from Paris. Following the ceremony President
Mitterrand and the Queen travelled on Le Shuttle to a similar ceremony
Folkestone . A full public service did not start for several
Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), now called
High Speed 1
High Speed 1 , runs
69 miles (111 km) from
St Pancras railway station
St Pancras railway station in London to the
tunnel portal at
Folkestone in Kent. It cost £5.8 billion. On 16
September 2003 the prime minister,
Tony Blair , opened the first
section of High Speed 1, from
Folkestone to north Kent. On 6 November
2007 the Queen officially opened
High Speed 1
High Speed 1 and St Pancras
International station, replacing the original slower link to Waterloo
International railway station .
High Speed 1
High Speed 1 trains travel at up to
300 km/h (186 mph), the journey from London to Paris taking 2 hours 15
minutes, to Brussels 1 hour 51 minutes.
In 1994, the
American Society of Civil Engineers elected the tunnel
as one of the seven modern
Wonders of the World . In 1995, the
Popular Mechanics published the results.
Tunnel exhibit at the
National Railway Museum in
York , England, showing the circular cross section of the tunnel with
the overhead line powering a
Eurostar train. Also visible is the
segmented tunnel lining
Surveying undertaken in the 20 years before construction confirmed
earlier speculations that a tunnel could be bored through a chalk marl
stratum. The chalk marl is conducive to tunnelling, with
impermeability, ease of excavation and strength. The chalk marl runs
along the entire length of the English side of the tunnel, but on the
French side a length of 5 kilometres (3 mi) has variable and difficult
geology. The tunnel consists of three bores: two 7.6-metre (25 ft)
diameter rail tunnels, 30 metres (98 ft) apart, 50 kilometres (31 mi)
in length with a 4.8-metre (16 ft) diameter service tunnel in between.
The three bores are connected by cross-passages and piston relief
ducts. The service tunnel was used as a pilot tunnel, boring ahead of
the main tunnels to determine the conditions. English access was
provided at Shakespeare Cliff, French access from a shaft at Sangatte.
The French side used five tunnel boring machines (TBMs), the English
side six. The service tunnel uses Service
Tunnel Transport System
(STTS) and Light Service
Tunnel Vehicles (LADOGS). Fire safety was a
critical design issue.
Between the portals at Beussingue and Castle Hill the tunnel is 50.5
kilometres (31 mi) long, with 3.3 kilometres (2 mi) under land on the
French side and 9.3 kilometres (6 mi) on the UK side, and 37.9
kilometres (24 mi) under sea. It is the third-longest rail tunnel in
the world, behind the Gotthard Base
Tunnel in Switzerland and the
Tunnel in Japan, but with the longest under-sea section. The
average depth is 45 metres (148 ft) below the seabed. On the UK side,
of the expected 5 million cubic metres (6.5×10^6 cu yd ) of spoil
approximately 1 million cubic metres (1.3×10^6 cu yd) was used for
fill at the terminal site, and the remainder was deposited at Lower
Shakespeare Cliff behind a seawall, reclaiming 74 acres (30 ha) of
land. This land was then made into the
Samphire Hoe Country Park .
Environmental impact assessment did not identify any major risks for
the project, and further studies into safety, noise, and air pollution
were overall positive. However, environmental objections were raised
over a high-speed link to London.
Geological profile along the tunnel as constructed. For most of
its length the tunnel bores through a chalk marl stratum (layer)
Successful tunnelling required a sound understanding of the
topography and geology and the selection of the best rock strata
through which to dig. The geology of this site generally consists of
northeasterly dipping Cretaceous strata, part of the northern limb of
the Wealden-Boulonnais dome. Characteristics include:
* Continuous chalk on the cliffs on either side of the Channel
containing no major faulting, as observed by
Verstegan in 1605.
* Four geological strata , marine sediments laid down 90–100
million years ago; pervious upper and middle chalk above slightly
pervious lower chalk and finally impermeable
Gault Clay . A sandy
stratum, glauconitic marl (tortia), is in between the chalk marl and
* A 25–30-metre (82–98 ft) layer of chalk marl (French: craie
bleue) in the lower third of the lower chalk appeared to present the
best tunnelling medium. The chalk has a clay content of 30–40%
providing impermeability to groundwater yet relatively easy excavation
with strength allowing minimal support. Ideally the tunnel would be
bored in the bottom 15 metres (49 ft) of the chalk marl, allowing
water inflow from fractures and joints to be minimised, but above the
gault clay that would increase stress on the tunnel lining and swell
and soften when wet.
On the English side, the stratum dip is less than 5°; on the French
side this increases to 20°. Jointing and faulting are present on both
sides. On the English side, only minor faults of displacement less
than 2 metres (7 ft) exist; on the French side, displacements of up to
15 metres (49 ft) are present owing to the Quenocs anticlinal fold .
The faults are of limited width, filled with calcite, pyrite and
remoulded clay. The increased dip and faulting restricted the
selection of route on the French side. To avoid confusion, microfossil
assemblages were used to classify the chalk marl. On the French side,
particularly near the coast, the chalk was harder, more brittle and
more fractured than on the English side. This led to the adoption of
different tunnelling techniques on the two sides.
The Quaternary undersea valley Fosse Dangaered, and Castle Hill
landslip at the English portal, caused concerns. Identified by the
1964–65 geophysical survey, the Fosse Dangaered is an infilled
valley system extending 80 metres (262 ft) below the seabed, 500
metres (1,640 ft) south of the tunnel route in mid-channel. A 1986
survey showed that a tributary crossed the path of the tunnel, and so
the tunnel route was made as far north and deep as possible. The
English terminal had to be located in the Castle Hill landslip, which
consists of displaced and tipping blocks of lower chalk, glauconitic
marl and gault debris. Thus the area was stabilised by buttressing and
inserting drainage adits . The service tunnel acted as a pilot
preceding the main ones, so that the geology, areas of crushed rock,
and zones of high water inflow could be predicted. Exploratory probing
took place in the service tunnel, in the form of extensive forward
probing, vertical downward probes and sideways probing.
Marine soundings and samplings by Thomé de Gamond were carried out
during 1833–67, establishing the seabed depth at a maximum of 55
metres (180 ft) and the continuity of geological strata (layers).
Surveying continued over many years, with 166 marine and 70 land-deep
boreholes being drilled and over 4,000-line-kilometres of marine
geophysical survey completed. Surveys were undertaken in 1958–1959,
1964–1965, 1972–1974 and 1986–1988.
The surveying in 1958–59 catered for immersed tube and bridge
designs as well as a bored tunnel, and thus a wide area was
investigated. At this time, marine geophysics surveying for
engineering projects was in its infancy, with poor positioning and
resolution from seismic profiling. The 1964–65 surveys concentrated
on a northerly route that left the English coast at Dover harbour;
using 70 boreholes, an area of deeply weathered rock with high
permeability was located just south of Dover harbour.
Given the previous survey results and access constraints, a more
southerly route was investigated in the 1972–73 survey, and the
route was confirmed to be feasible. Information for the tunnelling
project also came from work before the 1975 cancellation. On the
French side at Sangatte, a deep shaft with adits was made. On the
English side at Shakespeare Cliff, the government allowed 250 metres
(820 ft) of 4.5-metre (15 ft) diameter tunnel to be driven. The actual
tunnel alignment, method of excavation and support were essentially
the same as the 1975 attempt. In the 1986–87 survey, previous
findings were reinforced, and the characteristics of the gault clay
and the tunnelling medium (chalk marl that made up 85% of the route)
were investigated. Geophysical techniques from the oil industry were
Typical cross section, with the service tunnel between twin rail
ones; shown linking the rail tunnels is a piston relief duct,
necessary to manage pressure changes due to the movement of trains
Tunnelling was a major engineering challenge, with the only precedent
being the undersea Seikan
Tunnel in Japan. A serious risk with
underwater tunnels is major water inflow due to the pressure from the
sea above, under weak ground conditions. The tunnel also had the
challenge of time: being privately funded, early financial return was
The objective was to construct two 7.6-metre-diameter (25 ft) rail
tunnels, 30 metres (98 ft) apart, 50 kilometres (31 mi) in length; a
4.8-metre-diameter (16 ft) service tunnel between the two main ones;
pairs of 3.3-metre-diameter (11 ft) cross-passages linking the rail
tunnels to the service one at 375-metre (1,230 ft) spacing; piston
relief ducts 2 metres (7 ft) in diameter connecting the rail tunnels
250 metres (820 ft) apart; two undersea crossover caverns to connect
the rail tunnels, with the service tunnel always preceding the main
ones by at least 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) to ascertain the ground
conditions. There was plenty of experience with excavating through
chalk in the mining industry, while the undersea crossover caverns
were a complex engineering problem. The French one was based on the
Mount Baker Ridge freeway tunnel in
Seattle ; the UK cavern was dug
from the service tunnel ahead of the main ones, to avoid delay.
Precast segmental linings in the main TBM drives were used, but two
different solutions were used. On the French side, neoprene and grout
sealed bolted linings made of cast iron or high-strength reinforced
concrete were used; on the English side, the main requirement was for
speed so bolting of cast-iron lining segments was only carried out in
areas of poor geology. In the UK rail tunnels, eight lining segments
plus a key segment were used; in the French side, five segments plus a
key. On the French side, a 55-metre (180 ft) diameter 75-metre (246
ft) deep grout-curtained shaft at
Sangatte was used for access. On the
English side, a marshalling area was 140 metres (459 ft) below the top
of Shakespeare Cliff, the
New Austrian Tunnelling method (NATM) was
first applied in the chalk marl here. On the English side, the land
tunnels were driven from
Shakespeare Cliff - same place as the marine
tunnels - not from Folkestone. The platform at the base of the cliff
was not large enough for all of the drives and, despite environmental
objections, tunnel spoil was placed behind a reinforced concrete
seawall, on condition of placing the chalk in an enclosed lagoon, to
avoid wide dispersal of chalk fines. Owing to limited space, the
precast lining factory was on the
Isle of Grain
Isle of Grain in the Thames estuary,
which used Scottish granite aggregate delivered by ship from the
Foster Yeoman coastal super quarry at
Loch Linnhe on the
west coast of Scotland.
On the French side, owing to the greater permeability to water, earth
pressure balance TBMs with open and closed modes were used. The TBMs
were of a closed nature during the initial 5 kilometres (3 mi), but
then operated as open, boring through the chalk marl stratum. This
minimised the impact to the ground, allowed high water pressures to be
withstood and it also alleviated the need to grout ahead of the
tunnel. The French effort required five TBMs: two main marine
machines, one main land machine (the short land drives of 3 km (2 mi)
allowed one TBM to complete the first drive then reverse direction and
complete the other), and two service tunnel machines. On the English
side, the simpler geology allowed faster open-faced TBMs. Six
machines were used, all commenced digging from Shakespeare Cliff,
three marine-bound and three for the land tunnels. Towards the
completion of the undersea drives, the UK TBMs were driven steeply
downwards and buried clear of the tunnel. These buried TBMs were then
used to provide an electrical earth. The French TBMs then completed
the tunnel and were dismantled. A 900 mm (35 in) gauge railway was
used on the English side during construction.
In contrast to the English machines, which were given alphanumeric
names, the French tunnelling machines were all named after women:
Brigitte, Europa, Catherine, Virginie, Pascaline, Séverine.
At the end of the tunnelling, one machine was on display at the side
M20 motorway in
Eurotunnel sold it on eBay for
£39,999 to a scrap metal merchant. Another machine (T4 "Virginie")
still survives on the French side, adjacent to Junction 41 on the A16
, in the middle of the D243E3/D243E4 roundabout. On it are the words
"hommage aux batisseurs du tunnel", meaning "tribute to the builders
of the tunnel".
Interior of the
Eurotunnel Shuttle , used to carry motor
vehicles through the Channel
Tunnel (cars are unable to be driven
through it) between its two termini. This shuttle is the largest
railway wagon in the world.
There are three communication systems: concession radio (CR) for
mobile vehicles and personnel within Eurotunnel's Concession
(terminals, tunnels, coastal shafts); track-to-train radio (TTR) for
secure speech and data between trains and the railway control centre;
Shuttle internal radio (SIR) for communication between shuttle crew
and to passengers over car radios. This service was discontinued
within one year of opening because of drivers' difficulty setting
their radios to the correct frequency (88.8 MHz).
Power is delivered to the locomotives via an overhead line (catenary)
at 25 kV 50 Hz . All tunnel services run on electricity, shared
equally from English and French sources. There are two sub-stations
fed at 400 kV at each terminal, but in an emergency the tunnel's
lighting (about 20,000 light fittings) and plant can be powered solely
England or France.
The traditional railway south of London uses a 750 V DC third rail to
deliver electricity, but since the opening of
High Speed 1
High Speed 1 there is no
longer any need for tunnel trains to use the third rail system. High
Speed 1, the tunnel and the
LGV Nord all have power provided via
overhead catenary at 25 kV 50 Hz. The railways on "classic" lines in
Belgium are also electrified by overhead wires, but at 3000 V DC.
A cab signalling system gives information directly to train drivers
on a display. There is a train protection system that stops the train
if the speed exceeds that indicated on the in-cab display. TVM430 , as
LGV Nord and
High Speed 1
High Speed 1 , is used in the tunnel. The TVM
signalling is interconnected with the signalling on the high-speed
lines either side, allowing trains to enter and exit the tunnel system
without stopping. The maximum speed is 160 km/h.
Signalling in the tunnel is coordinated from two control centres: The
main control centre at the
Folkestone terminal, and a backup at the
Calais terminal, which is staffed at all times and can take over all
operations in the event of a breakdown or emergency.
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Conventional ballasted tunnel-track was ruled out owing to the
difficulty of maintenance and lack of stability and precision. The
Sonneville International Corporation's track system was chosen based
on reliability and cost-effectiveness based on good performance in
Swiss tunnels and worldwide. The type of track used is known as Low
Vibration Track (LVT). Like ballasted track the LVT is of the free
floating type, held in place by gravity and friction. Reinforced
concrete blocks of 100 kg support the rails every 60 cm and are held
by 12 mm thick closed cell polymer foam pads placed at the bottom of
rubber boots. The latter separate the blocks' mass movements from the
lean encasement concrete. Ballastless track provides extra overhead
clearance necessary for the passage of larger trains. The corrugated
rubber walls of the boots add a degree of isolation of horizontal
wheel-rail vibrations, and are insulators of the track signal circuit
in the humid tunnel environment. UIC60 (60 kg/m) rails of 900A grade
rest on 6 mm (0.2 in) rail pads, which fit the RN/Sonneville bolted
dual leaf-springs. The rails, LVT-blocks and their boots with pads
were assembled outside the tunnel, in a fully automated process
developed by the LVT inventor, Mr. Roger Sonneville. About 334,000
Sonneville blocks were made on the
Maintenance activities are less than projected. Initially the rails
were ground on a yearly basis or after approximately 100MGT of
traffic. Ride quality continues to be noticeably smooth and of low
noise. Maintenance is facilitated by the existence of two tunnel
junctions or crossover facilities, allowing for two-way operation in
each of the six tunnel segments thereby created, and thus providing
safe access for maintenance of one isolated tunnel segment at a time.
The two crossovers are the largest artificial undersea caverns ever
built; 150 m long, 10 m high and 18 m wide. The English crossover is 8
km (5 mi) from Shakespeare Cliff, and the French crossover is 12 km (7
mi) from Sangatte.
Ventilation, Cooling And Drainage
The ventilation system maintains the air pressure in the service
tunnel higher than in the rail tunnels, so that in the event of a
fire, smoke does not enter the service tunnel from the rail tunnels.
Two cooling water pipes in each rail tunnel circulate chilled water to
remove heat generated by the rail traffic. Pumping stations remove
water in the tunnels from rain, seepage, and so on.
Entrance to the tunnel near Coquelles,
Eurotunnel Shuttle and
Eurotunnel Class 9
Initially 38 Le Shuttle locomotives were commissioned, with one at
each end of a shuttle train. The shuttles have two separate halves:
single and double deck. Each half has two loading/unloading wagons and
12 carrier wagons. Eurotunnel's original order was for nine tourist
Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) shuttles also have two halves, with each
half containing one loading wagon, one unloading wagon and 14 carrier
wagons. There is a club car behind the leading locomotive. Eurotunnel
originally ordered six HGV shuttle rakes.
British Rail Class 92
Forty-six Class 92 locomotives for hauling freight trains and
overnight passenger trains (the Nightstar project, which was
abandoned) were commissioned, running on both overhead AC and
third-rail DC power. However, RFF does not let these run on French
railways, so there are plans to certify Alstom
Prima II locomotives
for use in the tunnel.
British Rail Class 373 and
British Rail Class 374
Eurostar trains, based on the French
TGV , built to UK
loading gauge with many modifications for safety within the tunnel,
were commissioned, with ownership split between British Rail, French
national railways (SNCF) and Belgian national railways (SNCB). British
Rail ordered seven more for services north of London. Around 2010,
Eurostar ordered ten trains from
Siemens based on its Velaro product.
Germany (DB) has since around 2005 tried to get permission to run
train services to London. At the end of 2009, extensive fire-proofing
requirements were dropped and DB received permission to run German
Intercity-Express (ICE) test trains through the tunnel. In June 2013
DB was granted access to the tunnel. In June 2014 the plans were
shelved, because there are special safety rules that requires custom
made trains (DB calls them Class 407 ).
Diesel locomotives for rescue and shunting work are
Eurotunnel Class 0031 .
The following chart presents the estimated number of passengers and
tonnes of freight, respectively, annually transported through the
Tunnel since 1994, in millions:
Million tonnes of freight
USAGE AND SERVICES
The British terminal at Cheriton in west Folkestone. The
terminal services shuttle trains that carry vehicles, and is linked to
M20 motorway The
Folkestone White Horse viewed at Cheriton
Transport services offered by the tunnel are as follows:
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle roll-on roll-off shuttle service for road
vehicles and their drivers and passengers,
Eurostar passenger trains,
* through freight trains.
Both the freight and passenger traffic forecasts that led to the
construction of the tunnel were overestimated; in particular,
Eurotunnel's commissioned forecasts were over-predictions. Although
the captured share of Channel crossings was forecast correctly, high
competition (especially from budget airlines which expanded rapidly in
the 1990s and 2000s) and reduced tariffs led to low revenue. Overall
cross-Channel traffic was overestimated.
With the EU\'s liberalisation of international rail services, the
High Speed 1
High Speed 1 have been open to competition since 2010.
There have been a number of operators interested in running trains
through the tunnel and along
High Speed 1
High Speed 1 to London. In June 2013,
after several years, DB obtained a licence to operate
London trains, not expected to run before 2016 because of delivery
delays of the custom-made trains.
Passenger Traffic Volumes
Cross-tunnel passenger traffic volumes peaked at 18.4 million in
1998, dropped to 14.9 million in 2003, then rose to 21.0 million in
At the time of the decision about building the tunnel, 15.9 million
passengers were predicted for
Eurostar trains in the opening year. In
1995, the first full year, actual numbers were a little over 2.9
million, growing to 7.1 million in 2000, then dropping to 6.3 million
Eurostar was initially limited by the lack of a high-speed
connection on the British side. After the completion of High Speed 1
in two stages in 2003 and 2007, traffic increased. In 2008, Eurostar
carried 9,113,371 passengers, a 10% increase over the previous year,
despite traffic limitations due to the 2008 Channel
Tunnel fire .
Eurostar passenger numbers continued to increase, reaching 10,397,894
(actual ticket sales) by
Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttles
(estimated, millions) Total
A only passengers taking
Eurostar to cross the Channel
Freight Traffic Volumes
Freight volumes have been erratic, with a major decrease during 1997
due to a closure caused by a fire in a freight shuttle. Freight
crossings increased over the period, indicating the substitutability
of the tunnel by sea crossings. The tunnel has achieved a market share
close to or above Eurotunnel's 1980s predictions but Eurotunnel's 1990
and 1994 predictions were overestimates.
For through freight trains, the first year prediction was 7.2 million
gross tonnes; the actual 1995 figure was 1.3M gross tonnes. Through
freight volumes peaked in 1998 at 3.1M tonnes. This fell back to 1.21M
tonnes in 2007, increasing slightly to 1.24M tonnes in 2008. Together
with that carried on freight shuttles, freight growth has occurred
since opening, with 6.4M tonnes carried in 1995, 18.4M tonnes recorded
in 2003 and 19.6M tonnes in 2007. Numbers fell back in the wake of
the 2008 fire.
FREIGHT TRANSPORTED (TONNES)
THROUGH FREIGHT TRAINS
EUROTUNNEL TRUCK SHUTTLES (EST.)
Eurotunnel's freight subsidiary is
Europorte 2 . In September 2006
EWS, the UK's largest rail freight operator, announced that owing to
cessation of UK-French government subsidies of £52 million per annum
to cover the tunnel "Minimum User Charge" (a subsidy of around
£13,000 per train, at a traffic level of 4,000 trains per annum),
freight trains would stop running after 30 November.
Eurotunnel were issued at £3.50 per share on 9 December
1987. By mid-1989 the price had risen to £11.00. Delays and cost
overruns led to the price dropping; during demonstration runs in
October 1994 it reached an all-time low.
Eurotunnel suspended payment
on its debt in September 1995 to avoid bankruptcy. In December 1997
the British and French governments extended Eurotunnel's operating
concession by 34 years, to 2086. Financial restructuring of Eurotunnel
occurred in mid-1998, reducing debt and financial charges. Despite the
The Economist reported in 1998 that to break even
Eurotunnel would have to increase fares, traffic and market share for
sustainability. A cost benefit analysis of the tunnel indicated that
there were few impacts on the wider economy and few developments
associated with the project, and that the British economy would have
been better off if it had not been constructed.
Under the terms of the Concession,
Eurotunnel was obliged to
investigate a cross-Channel road tunnel. In December 1999 road and
rail tunnel proposals were presented to the British and French
governments, but it was stressed that there was not enough demand for
a second tunnel. A three-way treaty between the United Kingdom,
France and Belgium governs border controls, with the establishment of
control zones wherein the officers of the other nation may exercise
limited customs and law enforcement powers. For most purposes these
are at either end of the tunnel, with the French border controls on
the UK side of the tunnel and vice versa. For some city-to-city
trains, the train is a control zone. A binational emergency plan
coordinates UK and French emergency activities.
Eurostar posted its first net profit, having made a loss of
£925m in 1995. In 2005
Eurotunnel was described as being in a
serious situation. In 2013, operating profits rose 4 per cent from
2012, to £54 million.
There is a need for full passport controls, since this is the border
Schengen Area and the
Common Travel Area
Common Travel Area . There are
juxtaposed controls , meaning that passports are checked before
boarding first by officials belonging to departing country and then
officials of the destination country. These are only placed at the
Eurostar stations: French officials operate at London St Pancras
, Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International , while British
officials operate at Calais-Fréthun ,
Lille-Europe , Brussels-South
Gare du Nord
Gare du Nord . There are security checks before boarding as
well. For the shuttle road-vehicle trains, there are juxtaposed
passport controls before boarding the trains.
Eurostar trains travelling from places south of Paris, there is
no passport and security check before departure, and those trains must
stop in Lille at least 30 minutes to allow all passengers to be
checked. No checks are done on board. There have been plans for
Cologne to London, but a major
reason to cancel them was the need for a stop in Lille.
The reason for juxtaposed controls is a wish to prevent illegal
immigration before reaching British soil, and because a check of all
passengers on a train can take 30 minutes, which creates long queues
if done at arrival.
Calais Terminal and
Terminal Automobile entering a shuttle wagon at the French
The terminals' sites are at Cheriton (near
Folkestone in the United
Calais in France). The terminals are
designed to transfer vehicles from the motorway onto trains at a rate
of 700 cars and 113 heavy vehicles per hour. The UK site uses the M20
motorway for access. The terminals are organised with the frontier
controls juxtaposed with the entry to the system to allow travellers
to go onto the motorway at the destination country immediately after
leaving the shuttle. The area of the UK site was severely constrained
and the design was challenging. The French layout was achieved more
easily. To achieve design output, the shuttles accept cars on
double-deck wagons; for flexibility, ramps were placed inside the
shuttles to provide access to the top decks. At
Folkestone there are
20 kilometres (12 mi) of main-line track, 45 turnouts and eight
Calais there are 30 kilometres (19 mi) of track and 44
turnouts. At the terminals the shuttle trains traverse a figure eight
to reduce uneven wear on the wheels. There is a freight marshalling
yard west of Cheriton at
Dollands Moor Freight Yard .
A 1996 report from the
European Commission predicted that
Calais had to face increased traffic volumes due to
general growth of cross-Channel traffic and traffic attracted by the
tunnel. In Kent, a high-speed rail line to London would transfer
traffic from road to rail. Kent's regional development would benefit
from the tunnel, but being so close to London restricts the benefits.
Gains are in the traditional industries and are largely dependent on
the development of Ashford International passenger station, without
Kent would be totally dependent on London's expansion.
Pas-de-Calais enjoys a strong internal symbolic effect of the
Tunnel which results in significant gains in manufacturing.
The removal of a bottleneck by means like the tunnel does not
necessarily induce economic gains in all adjacent regions. The image
of a region being connected to the European high-speed transport and
active political response are more important for regional economic
development. Some small-medium enterprises located in the immediate
vicinity of the terminal have used the opportunity to re-brand the
profile of their business with positive effect, such as The New Inn at
Etchinghill which was able to commercially exploit its unique selling
point as being 'the closest pub to the Channel Tunnel'. Tunnel-induced
regional development is small compared to general economic growth.
The South East of
England is likely to benefit developmentally and
socially from faster and cheaper transport to continental Europe, but
the benefits are unlikely to be equally distributed throughout the
region. The overall environmental impact is almost certainly negative.
Since the opening of the tunnel, small positive impacts on the wider
economy have been felt, but it is difficult to identify major economic
successes directly attributed to the tunnel. The
operate profitably, offering an alternative transportation mode
unaffected by poor weather. High costs of construction did delay
profitability, however, and companies involved in the tunnel's
construction and operation early in operation relied on government aid
to deal with debts amounted.
See also: Migrants around
Illegal Immigrants and would-be asylum seekers have used the tunnel
to attempt to enter Britain . By 1997, the problem had attracted
international press attention, and by 1999, the French Red Cross
opened the first migrant centre at
Sangatte , using a warehouse once
used for tunnel construction; by 2002, it housed up to 1,500 people at
a time, most of them trying to get to the UK. In 2001, most came from
Iraq , and
Iran , but African and Eastern European
countries were also represented.
Eurotunnel, the company that operates the crossing, said that it has
intercepted more than 37,000 migrants between January and July 2015.
According to the official count in July 2015, about 3,000 migrants,
Afghanistan , were living
in the makeshift camps in Calais. It is estimated that about 5,000
migrants are waiting in the harbour town
Calais to find a chance to
get to England.
France operate a system of
Juxtaposed controls on
immigration and customs, where investigations happen before travel.
France is part of the
Schengen Agreement , which border checks between
member nations have largely been abolished, but the
United Kingdom is
Most illegal immigrants and would-be asylum seekers who got into
Britain found some way to ride a freight train. Trucks are loaded onto
freight trains. In a few instances, groups of migrants were able to
stowaway in the cargo area of a tanker truck carrying liquid chocolate
and managed to survive, though they did not enter the UK in one
attempt. Although the facilities were fenced, airtight security was
deemed impossible; migrants would even jump from bridges onto moving
trains . In several incidents people were injured during the crossing;
others tampered with railway equipment, causing delays and requiring
Eurotunnel said it was losing £5m per month because of the
In 2001 and 2002, several riots broke out at Sangatte, and groups of
migrants (up to 550 in a December 2001 incident) stormed the fences
and attempted to enter en masse.
Other migrants use the
Eurostar passenger train. They arrive as
Eurostar passengers, but without proper entry papers.
Local authorities in both
France and the UK called for the closure of
Sangatte migrant camp, and
Eurotunnel twice sought an injunction
against the centre. The
United Kingdom blamed
France for allowing
Sangatte to open, and
France blamed both the UK for its lax asylum
rules, and the EU for not having a uniform immigration policy. The
cause célèbre nature of the problem even included journalists
detained as they followed migrants onto railway property.
In 2002, after the
European Commission told
France that it was in
European Union rules on the free transfer of goods because
of the delays and closures as a result of its poor security, a double
fence was built at a cost of £5 million, reducing the numbers of
migrants detected each week reaching Britain on goods trains from 250
to almost none. Other measures included CCTV cameras and increased
police patrols. At the end of 2002, the
Sangatte centre was closed
after the UK agreed to absorb some migrants.
On 23 and 30 June 2015, striking workers associated with MyFerryLink
damaged the sections of track by burning car tires, leading to all
trains being cancelled and a backlog of vehicles. Hundreds seeking to
reach Britain made use of the situation to attempt to stowaway inside
and underneath transport trucks destined for the United Kingdom. Extra
security measures including: £2-million upgrade of detection
technology; £1 million extra for dog searches; £12 million (over
three years) towards a joint fund with
France for security surrounding
the Port of Calais.
Migrants take great risks to evade security precautions. By 2002, a
dozen migrants have died in crossing attempts. In the two months from
June to July 2015, ten migrants died near the French tunnel terminal,
during a period when 1,500 attempts to evade security precautions were
being made each day.
On 6 July 2015, a migrant died while attempting to climb onto a
freight train while trying to reach Britain from the French side of
the Channel. The previous month an Eritrean man was killed under
During the night of 28 July 2015, one person aged 25–30, was found
dead, after a night in which 1,500–2,000 migrants had attempted to
On 4 August 2015, a Sudanese migrant walked nearly the entire length
of one of the tunnels. He was arrested close to the British side,
after having walked about 30 miles (48 km) through the tunnel.
On 20 June 2017, a lorry driver was killed when migrants stopped
vehicles on the
A16 autoroute with a tree trunk , in order to stowaway
in the cargo area. A van registered in
Poland hit the lorry, and
burst into fire, killing the van driver. Nine migrants from Eritrea
have been arrested in connection with this incident.
Main articles: 1996 Channel
Tunnel fire and 2008 Channel
There have been three fires in the tunnel, all on the heavy goods
vehicle (HGV) shuttles, that were significant enough to close the
tunnel, as well as other more minor incidents.
On 9 December 1994, during an "invitation only" testing phase, a fire
broke out in a Ford Escort car whilst its owner was loading it onto
the upper deck of a tourist shuttle. The fire started at about 10:00,
with the shuttle train stationary in the
Folkestone terminal and was
put out about 40 minutes later with no passenger injuries.
On 18 November 1996, a fire broke out on an HGV shuttle wagon in the
tunnel, but nobody was seriously hurt. The exact cause is unknown,
although it was neither a
Eurotunnel equipment nor rolling stock
problem; it may have been due to arson of a heavy goods vehicle. It is
estimated that the heart of the fire reached 1,000 °C (1,800 °F),
with the tunnel severely damaged over 46 metres (151 ft), with some
500 metres (1,640 ft) affected to some extent. Full operation
recommenced six months after the fire.
On 21 August 2006, the tunnel was closed for several hours when a
truck on an HGV shuttle train caught fire.
On 11 September 2008, a fire occurred in the Channel
Tunnel at 13:57
GMT. The incident started on an HGV shuttle train travelling towards
France. The event occurred 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from the French
entrance to the tunnel. No one was killed but several people were
taken to hospitals suffering from smoke inhalation, and minor cuts and
bruises. The tunnel was closed to all traffic, with the undamaged
Tunnel reopening for limited services two days later. Full
service resumed on 9 February 2009 after repairs costing €60
On 29 November 2012, the tunnel was closed for several hours after a
truck on an HGV shuttle caught fire.
On 17 January 2015, both tunnels were closed following a lorry fire
which filled the midsection of Running
Tunnel North with smoke.
Eurostar cancelled all services. The shuttle train had been heading
Coquelles and stopped adjacent to cross-passage CP
4418 just before 12:30 UTC. Thirty-eight passengers and four members
Eurotunnel staff were evacuated into the service tunnel, and then
France using special STTS road vehicles in the Service
Tunnel. The passengers and crew were taken to the Eurotunnel
Fire/Emergency Management Centre close to the French portal.
On the night of 19/20 February 1996, about 1,000 passengers became
trapped in the Channel
Eurostar trains from London broke
down owing to failures of electronic circuits caused by snow and ice
being deposited and then melting on the circuit boards.
On 3 August 2007, an electrical failure lasting six hours caused
passengers to be trapped in the tunnel on a shuttle.
On the evening of 18 December 2009, during the December 2009 European
snowfall , five London-bound
Eurostar trains failed inside the tunnel,
trapping 2,000 passengers for approximately 16 hours, during the
coldest temperatures in eight years. A
explained that snow had evaded the train's winterisation shields, and
the transition from cold air outside to the tunnel's warm atmosphere
had melted the snow, resulting in electrical failures. One train
was turned back before reaching the tunnel; two trains were hauled out
of the tunnel by
Eurotunnel Class 0001 diesel locomotives. The
blocking of the tunnel led to the implementation of
Operation Stack ,
the transformation of the
M20 motorway into a linear car park.
The occasion was the first time that a
Eurostar train was evacuated
inside the tunnel; the failing of four at once was described as
"unprecedented". The Channel
Tunnel reopened the following morning.
Nirj Deva ,
Member of the European Parliament for South East England,
had called for
Eurostar chief executive Richard Brown to resign over
the incidents. An independent report by
Christopher Garnett (former
Great North Eastern Railway
Great North Eastern Railway ) and Claude Gressier (a French
transport expert) on the 18/19 December 2009 incidents was issued in
February 2010, making 21 recommendations.
On 7 January 2010, a Brussels–London
Eurostar broke down in the
tunnel. The train had 236 passengers on board and was towed to
Ashford; other trains that had not yet reached the tunnel were turned
Tunnel Safety Authority is responsible for some aspects
of safety regulation in the tunnel; it reports to the IGC.
CHANNEL TUNNEL SAFETY
NORTH RUNNING TUNNEL
SOUTH RUNNING TUNNEL
Emergency door every 375 m
The service tunnel is used for access to technical equipment in
cross-passages and equipment rooms, to provide fresh-air ventilation
and for emergency evacuation. The Service
Tunnel Transport System
(STTS) allows fast access to all areas of the tunnel. The service
vehicles are rubber-tyred with a buried wire guidance system. The 24
STTS vehicles are used mainly for maintenance but also for
firefighting and in emergencies. "Pods" with different purposes, up to
a payload of 2.5–5 t (2.8–5.5 tons), are inserted into the side of
the vehicles. The vehicles cannot turn around within the tunnel, and
are driven from either end. The maximum speed is 80 km/h (50 mph) when
the steering is locked. A fleet of 15 Light Service
(LADOGS) was introduced to supplement the STTSs. The LADOGS have a
short wheelbase with a 3.4 m (11 ft) turning circle, allowing
two-point turns within the service tunnel. Steering cannot be locked
like the STTS vehicles, and maximum speed is 50 km/h (31 mph). Pods up
to 1 tonne can be loaded onto the rear of the vehicles. Drivers in the
tunnel sit on the right, and the vehicles drive on the left. Owing to
the risk of French personnel driving on their native right side of the
road, sensors in the vehicles alert the driver if the vehicle strays
to the right side.
The three tunnels contain 6,000 tonnes (6,600 tons) of air that needs
to be conditioned for comfort and safety. Air is supplied from
ventilation buildings at
Shakespeare Cliff and Sangatte, with each
building capable of providing 100% standby capacity. Supplementary
ventilation also exists on either side of the tunnel. In the event of
a fire, ventilation is used to keep smoke out of the service tunnel
and move smoke in one direction in the main tunnel to give passengers
clean air. The tunnel was the first main-line railway tunnel to have
special cooling equipment. Heat is generated from traction equipment
and drag. The design limit was set at 30 °C (86 °F), using a
mechanical cooling system with refrigeration plants on both sides that
run chilled water circulating in pipes within the tunnel.
Trains travelling at high speed create piston-effect pressure changes
that can affect passenger comfort, ventilation systems, tunnel doors,
fans and the structure of the trains, and which drag on the trains.
Piston relief ducts of 2-metre (7 ft) diameter were chosen to solve
the problem, with 4 ducts per kilometre to give close to optimum
results. Unfortunately this design led to unacceptable lateral forces
on the trains so a reduction in train speed was required and
restrictors were installed in the ducts.
The safety issue of a possible fire on a passenger-vehicle shuttle
garnered much attention, with
Eurotunnel noting that fire was the risk
attracting the most attention in a 1994 safety case for three reasons:
the opposition of ferry companies to passengers being allowed to
remain with their cars;
Home Office statistics indicating that car
fires had doubled in ten years; and the long length of the tunnel.
Eurotunnel commissioned the UK Fire Research Station - now part of the
Building Research Establishment - to give reports of vehicle fires,
and liaised with
Kent Fire Brigade to gather vehicle fire statistics
over one year. Fire tests took place at the French Mines Research
Establishment with a mock wagon used to investigate how cars burned.
The wagon door systems are designed to withstand fire inside the wagon
for 30 minutes, longer than the transit time of 27 minutes. Wagon air
conditioning units help to purge dangerous fumes from inside the wagon
before travel. Each wagon has a fire detection and extinguishing
system, with sensing of ions or ultraviolet radiation , smoke and
gases that can trigger halon gas to quench a fire. Since the HGV
wagons are not covered, fire sensors are located on the loading wagon
and in the tunnel. A 10-inch (250 mm) water main in the service tunnel
provides water to the main tunnels at 125-metre (410 ft) intervals.
The ventilation system can control smoke movement.
sidings accept a train that is on fire, as the train is not allowed to
stop whilst on fire in the tunnel, unless continuing its journey would
lead to a worse outcome.
Eurotunnel has banned a wide range of
hazardous goods from travelling in the tunnel. Two STTS (Service
Tunnel Transportation System) vehicles with firefighting pods are on
duty at all times, with a maximum delay of 10 minutes before they
reach a burning train.
See also: Cycling in the Channel
In 2009, former F1 racing champion
John Surtees drove a Ginetta G50
EV electric sports car prototype from
England to France, using the
service tunnel, as part of a charity event. He was required to keep to
the 50-kilometre-per-hour (30 mph) speed limit. To celebrate the 2014
France 's transfer from its opening stages in Britain to
France in July of that year,
Chris Froome of
Team Sky rode a bicycle
through the service tunnel, becoming the first solo rider to do so.
The Crossing took under an hour, reaching speeds of 40 mph–faster
than most cross-channel ferries.
MOBILE NETWORK COVERAGE
Since 2012, French operators
Bouygues Telecom , Orange and
Tunnel South, the tunnel bore normally used for travel
France to Britain.
In January 2014, UK operators EE and Vodafone signed ten-year
Eurotunnel for Running
Tunnel North. The agreements
will enable both operators' subscribers to use 2G and 3G services.
Both EE and Vodafone plan to offer LTE services on the route; EE said
it expected to cover the route with LTE connectivity by summer 2014.
EE and Vodafone will offer Channel
Tunnel network coverage for
travellers from the UK to France.
Eurotunnel said it also held talks
Three UK but has yet to reach an agreement with the operator.
On 6 May 2014,
Eurotunnel announced that they had installed equipment
Alcatel-Lucent to cover Running
Tunnel North and simultaneously
to provide mobile service (
GSM 900/1800 MHz and
UMTS 2100 MHz ) by EE,
O2 and Vodafone. The service of EE and Vodafone commenced on the same
date as the announcement. O2 service was expected to be available soon
On 21 November 2014, EE announced that it had previously switched on
LTE earlier in September 2014. O2 turned on 2G, 3G and 4G services in
November 2014. Whilst Vodafone's 4G was due to go live later.
OTHER (NON-TRANSPORT) SERVICES
Another usage of the Channel
Tunnel is the 1,000 MW high voltage
direct current ElecLink connecting the electrical grids of the two
countries, scheduled for 2019 at a cost of €580m. The foundation
stone of the
Folkestone Converter Station was laid in February 2017,
by Jesse Norman, Minister for Industry and Energy.
CHANNEL TUNNEL IN POPULAR CULTURE
A Diplomatic Incident , the eleventh episode of the British sitcom
Yes, Prime Minister , first screened in 1987,
Jim Hacker decides who
is to negotiate with the French government over questions such as
whether French or English should come first on signs and menus, and
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