- What other necessary things had to be done to start operating the Channel Tunnel?
- Why didn’t the British support the first project of the Channel Tunnel?
- How many tunnels does the project actually contain?
- What are the safety tips while travelling through the Channel Tunnel?
- What are the possible ways for a passenger to travel through the Channel tunnel?
- Why is the Channel Tunnel considered to be a great engineering achievement?
- What was the most difficult task in constructing the Channel Tunnel?
A. The Channel Tunnel (or Chunnel) is a long tunnel between England and France under the English Channel. 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 Channel Tunnel is the longest undersea tunnel in the world. The tunnel was recognised as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Modern World’ by the American Society of 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 was the first person whoproposed to dig a tunnel under the water of the channel. Favier’s plan was adopted by French leader Napoleon 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 greatest challenge 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 Channel Tunnel. In fact, there are two running tunnels, one each way. Additionally, there is a smaller service tunnel with a crossover in the middle, so in case there’s an emergency, the trains can actually change to either side. It is wrong to call it a tunnel as there are actually three tunnels. The tunnels are about 50 meters below the seabed.
F. If you want to use the tunnel, you have got a choice. 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.