Channel Tunnel

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Channel Tunnel,

popularly called the "Chunnel," a three-tunnel railroad connection running under the English Channel, connecting Folkestone, England, and Calais, France. The tunnels are 31 mi (50 km) long. There are two rail tunnels, each 25 ft (7.6 m) in diameter, and a central tunnel, 16 ft (4.8 m) in diameter, that is used for maintenance and ventilation. The depth of the tunnels below the seabed averages about 150 ft (45 m). The project was a joint English and French venture, with a concession to operate the tunnel (until 2086) granted to Eurotunnel, a private company, and is the centerpiece of a high-speed rail link between London and Paris.

The project began with the signing of the Channel Tunnel Treaty between France and Britain in 1986; passenger service began in 1994. Freight trains and automobile- and truck-shuttle trains also use the tunnel. A higher than expected cost of digging the tunnels and lower than predicted tunnel traffic levels left Eurotunnel with huge debts, the repayment of which strained the finances of the company, threatened the company with insolvency, and led a French court to grant (2006) Eurotunnel creditor protection while the company reorganized (as Groupe Eurotunnel in 2007) and restructured its debt.


See G. Anderson and B. Roskrow, The Channel Tunnel Story (1994); T. Byrd, Making of the Channel Tunnel (1994); C. J. Kirkland, ed., Engineering the Channel Tunnel (1995).

References in periodicals archive ?
According to La Voix du Nord newspaper, the boy is the 12th person to have died in or around the Channel Tunnel in France since June.
The Channel Tunnel has the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world, which is used by Eurostar passenger train services and the Le Shuttle car and freight trains which transport nearly 2.
The handshake that made it all possible - Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Francois Mitterand after signing the Channel Tunnel Agreement at Canterbury in 1986 and, right, Baroness Thatcher at Waterloo Station for the opening of the terminal in 1994
1bn to acquire the Channel Tunnel high-speed rail link (HS1).
The sale of the 110-km High Speed 1 (HS1) line, which links central London to the Channel Tunnel, will be the first major British transport infrastructure sale since airport operator BAA sold London's Gatwick airport late last year.
John Surtees after his drive through the Channel Tunnel
That deal was aiming at stopping a flow of immigrants through the Channel Tunnel from Sangatte,' he said.
PLANS by the French government to open a second refugee camp near Calais would be "disastrous", Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel said today.
The Red Cross site at Sangatte, half a mile from the Channel Tunnel entrance and a mile from ferry ports, is seen as a base for immigrants trying to enter Britain illegally.
Channel Tunnel Companies were formed and stood ready to dig; some of them even started.
THE OPENING OF THE CHANNEL TUNNEL HAS BEEN postponed from June 15, 1993, until late summer.
In both scope and complexity, the project rivals many of Bechtel's previous exceptional accomplishments, including Hoover Dam, the Channel Tunnel, and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.