English channel tunnel is a 51 km long rail tunnel linking England and France beneath the English Channel. It connects Folkestone in England to Calais in France. The famous Eurostar trains and Eurotunnel Shuttle for road services which connect London and Paris run through this tunnel. Here are some of the interesting facts of the English Channel Tunnel:
1. Length: 51km
2. Number of railway lines: 2 main and 1 service
3. Completed: 1994
4. Cost of construction: £ 4.65 bn.
Here is the National Geographic documentary on the construction of the tunnel:
37 km of the tunnel is below the sea. The water depth is 60m at the deepest point along the tunnel. The tunnel is located another 40m underneath the seabed. It was bored simultaneously from the English and French sides and there was difficulty in getting the two sides to meet as the English side was a bored longer. The tunnel comprises of 2 individual tunnels and one small service tunnels for emergency. The speed limit for trains in the tunnel is 160 kph.
There have been three fires in the tunnel since its inception and a number of train breakdowns. It has also been a subject of controversy as many illegal immigrants used it to get in the UK.
However, the tunnel has significantly reduced travel time between England and France. It has connected England to the rest of Europe by road and rail. The American Society of Civil Engineers considers the English Channel Tunnel to be the greatest man made wonder of the world. Indeed it is!