Channel Tunnel is more than a World Wonder – it’s a beneficial construction.
- Channel Tunnel is an underground and underwater European tunnel connecting Kent’s Folkestone, in England, to the town of Coquelles in Pas-de-Calais, France.
- The ‘Channel Tunnel’ is also known as ‘Chunnel Tunnel’; in French, ‘Le tunnel sous la Manche’; and ‘Eurotunnel’, although this term generally refers to the company that manages the tunnel, or the shuttle service that travels through it.
- The Channel Tunnel spans 50.5 kilometres (31.4 miles) in length, and reaches depths of 75 metres (246 feet) below sea level, and it sits underneath the English Channel.
- The Channel Tunnel is a combination of three tunnels – two railway tunnels and a service tunnel, and passenger trains of high speeds, and freight trains that commonly carry vehicles with their passengers and pets, are able to travel in the tunnel, while the service tunnel is used by vehicles for maintenance, evacuations and other tasks.
- The idea of constructing a Channel tunnel was evident in 1802, and was first expressed by the Frenchman Albert Mathieu-Favier, an engineer, and while various plans and ideas were put forward during the 19th century, it was not until 1880 that preliminary boring work began, although it was quickly abandoned due to perceived national security hazards.
Inside the Service Tunnel of Channel Tunnel
Image courtesy of Jaguar MENA/Flickr
- It was not until more than a century later, after various ideas were put forward, that construction of the Channel Tunnel began, after Britain and France agreed on a treaty, known as the Treaty of Canterbury, that allowed the beginning of the construction of the tunnel in late 1987; and the project was finished in 1994.
- In the 20th century, the Channel Tunnel had the greatest length of tunnel, 37.9 kilometres (23.5 miles), underwater in the world, however the Japanese Seikan Tunnel was slightly longer in total length, and much deeper.
- Channel Tunnel was officially opened in 1994, on the 6th May, by Queen Elizabeth II and France’s President François Mitterrand after a cost of then 4.65 billion pounds (worth 12 billion pounds in 2015).
- A number of train failures have occurred in Channel Tunnel, and fires requiring temporary tunnel closures have also occurred over the years, while the 1996 and the 2008 fires caused extensive damage and partially closed the tunnel for approximately 6 months each.
- In the late 1990s and the early 2000s, Channel Tunnel was commonly used illegally by those seeking asylum in Britain; and to help rectify the problem, a now closed refugee centre was made available, and later a £5 million fence and other security measures were put in place.