In the making for two centuries the combined efforts of the English and the French made this dream a reality and a modern wonder.
It is known as Euro tunnel, or more informally as Chunnel, it is nowadays related with the words fastest and cheapest. This modern marvel is more than one of the fastest and cheapest means of travels it is also been given the title of one of the seven modern wonders of the world. This honor was bestowed upon it by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The Channel tunnel is 50.5 kilometers long and is a rail tunnel which lies under the sea. It links together the United Kingdom with northern France at Strait of Dover underneath the English Channel. The Chunnel has the world’s longest under water portion which is 37.9 kilometers in length. The tunnel has high speed passenger trains such as the Eurostar and the Eurotunnel shuttle.
The conceptual ideas for such a cross Channel tunnel connection was conceived as early as 1802. Fears of comprised security situations arising out of cross harbor link repeatedly stalled and delayed the construction of the Channel tunnel. But the destiny of the link seemed to be etched in our history as 1988 saw the beginning of the construction which was undertaken by Eurotunnel. The tunnel was opened for travelers in 1994. It was inaugurated on May 6 by the British Queen Elizabeth II and Francois Mitterrand, the French president.
Facts about the Channel tunnel:
The channel tunnel project has the longest period of gestation in our history with its plans, efforts and ideas spanning over two centuries. The challenges over come in bridging the two nations includes technology, finance, security concerns of British military and the most difficult one of consensus among the politicians.
The lining of the tunnel was designed for endurance for a 120 year period. A sum total of 13000 engineers, workers and technicians came together in the construction of the tunnel. The Channel Tunnel is made up of three tunnels which include two Running tunnels and smaller Service tunnel.
The Undersea tunnels lie at an average of 50 m below the level of the seabed. Most of the tunnel (85%) is constructed from Chalk Marl which is the basic unit of Chalk and is impervious to water. 84 km of the tunnels were constructed by the English side and 69 km was constructed on the French side. On the British side four million cubic meters of chalk was excavated. Chalk marl is 100 million years old which means it was deposited when the dinosaurs were roaming the earth.
The tunnel system is kept water free with the help of five pumping stations and the sumps. The rail tunnels have cooling systems installed in them. Cold water is passed through the pipes to maintain a comfortable temperature in the tunnel. The fast moving trains can cause heat to build up in the tunnels. On 1st December 1987 the tunnel service was started and it broke down in the December of 1990.
Size of UK increased by 90 acres due to the deposits of the tunnel spoils at the Shakespeare cliff region. The new area is known as Samphire Hoe and is popular for fishing, walks and picnics.
Experiencing the Eurotunnel:
Arrive at least half an hour prior to the scheduled time. Time can be consumed checking in. Go into the boarding lanes and go through the French and British security checks. Passengers require passports and visa (if required). Registration and insurance proof documents for the cars are also a must.
It can be most comfortable, quickest and easiest way to travel across the English Channel. The boarding is simple and uncomplicated. If you show up early enough you can be put on an early departure. The Eurotunnel car transporter is the Le Shuttle. It is like parking your car in a garage.
The inside of the car transporter compartment are painted bright yellow and have bright lights across them. Traveling across the tunnel is the most humane ride for a dear pet animal of yours. The pet dog or cat stays with you for the entire journey and one need not cage the pet. But traveling from the UK with the pet can take some planning. The pet needs to be micro-chipped, rabies free and registered with UK Pet Travel Scheme.
Chunnel tourist information:
The tunnel connects Folkestone, Kent with Coquelles, Calais. The tunnel even has its own exits for the motorway. The exits lead straight to check in at both the ends. A person traveling from the UK wanting to journey on the tunnel can take the junction 11A which lies off the M20. A monsieur traveling from France can take junction 42 which is off motorway A16.
One can book online at the website www.eurotunnel.com or can call on the following numbers for more information.
From UK: 08705 35 35 35
From France: 0810 63 03 04
From Outside of Europe: +33 (0) 3 2100 2061
There are ten trains in both the directions. The trains leave every two hours from 6 am to 10 pm in the night. This includes a train at midnight. One way fares begin at pound 49. Short stays or same day round trips can cost as low as pound 22. Motorcycles can travel for half the price.