- An underwater accident 5. The first project for an alternative route
- The great engineering achievement 6. Great work to complete the project
- Ways of travelling through the tunnel 7. Meeting in the centre
- An inaccurate name 8. Safety tips while travelling
A The Channel Tunnel (or Chunnel) is a long tunnel between England and France under the English Channel. The Channel Tunnel is the longest undersea tunnel in the world. The section under the sea is 38km long and the entire length is 50.5km. At its lowest point it is 75 metres deep. The tunnel was recognised as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Modern World’ by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
B. For centuries, crossing the English Channel via boat had been considered a miserable task. The windy weather and choppy water made travellers seasick. So, in 1802, French engineer Albert Favier proposed to dig a tunnel under the water of the channel. Favier’s plan was adopted by French leader Napolean Bonaparte. But the British rejected the plan. They feared that Napoleon wanted to build the tunnel in order to invade England.
C. At the end of the 20th century the idea was revived. The digging of the Channel Tunnel began simultaneously from the British and the French coasts. The most difficult task was making sure that both the British side of the tunnel and the French side actually met up in the middle. Special lasers and surveying equipment were used. On December 1, 1990, the meeting of the two sides was officially celebrated. For the first time in history, Great Britain and France were connected.
D. Although the meeting of the two sides of the service tunnel was a cause for great celebration, it certainly wasn’t the end of the Channel Tunnel building project. Crossover tunnels, land tunnels from the coast to the terminals, electrical systems, fireproof doors, the ventilation system, and train tracks all had to be added. Also, large train terminals had to be built at Folkestone in Great Britain and Coquelles in France.
E. It took 13,000 engineers and technicians to construct the tunnel. However, it is wrong to call it a tunnel, as there are actually three tunnels. There are two running tunnels, one each way. Additionally, there is a smaller service tunnel, with a crossover in the middle, in case there’s an emergency so the trains can actually change to either side. The tunnels themselves are about 50 meters below the seabed.
F. A fire erupted on November 18th, 1996 in the Channel Tunnel as the Eurostar train was racing through the southern tunnel. The corridor was filled with smoke and the majority of passengers were overwhelmed with fumes. Fortunately, they were all rescued after 20 minutes, but the fire continued to rage. It ended up damaging both the tunnel and the train before it was completely put out.
G. There are two options to travel through the tunnel. You can either go on a passenger train, the Eurostar, which departs from London, Paris and Brussels city centres. Or you can go on the drive-on service, called the Eurotunnel Shuttle, starting close to the tunnel entrance where you drive your car or truck onto special rail cars. The Eurostar takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes to travel from London to Paris.