The channel tunnel was officially opened on May 6th 1994 after Queen Elizabeth II and French President Francois Mitterand attended a ceremony to mark the first opportunity to cross by land since the Ice Age.The project to build it cost some $16 billion and connects the English town of Folkstone and Sangatte in France. The rail journey has been a remarkable achievement and has cut the crossing time to 35 minutes to cover the 31 miles mainly under the sea, and has led to trains now running from London to Paris to 2 hours 15 mins – making Paris as easy to access as Manchester, Liverpool or Leeds.The tunnel is the worlds longest undersea, and following its success has led to a project being floated that would one day connect Beijing with the US through a tunnel under the Bering Straits.
Example of how the under-sea Bullet train From Beijing To USA may look
The Channel Tunnel operates under water for 23 miles whilst the Baring Straits are some 125 miles. Every day of operation sees about 30,000 passengers, 6000 cars and 3500 trucks pass under the water.The tunnel is not just one but three tunnels, two for rail services and a smaller central one for servicing and emergency functions. The building process too 15,000 people to remove millions of tons of rock and earth to create what has been called the 7th wonder of the world.Amazingly, Napoleon had an engineer working on the project in 1802 with plans to have ventilation shafts that stood above the waves across the 23 mile piece of sea. In 1880 the project was still being pursued, and they reached over a mile under the sea before abandoning. Other attempts were made but nothing ever achieving the result of 12 years of digging prior to 1994.Whilst the Channel’s cost was twice the original estimate, it also managed to achieve the biggest losses in UK corporate history in its first year of operation. The great thing about a project like this was once built, there really aren’t many other options but to run it for its purpose which led to lots of debt restructuring over the years to 1999 when it made its first net profit.A lorry fire led to it suspending freight traffic for 6 months in November 1996 but fortunately nobody was seriously hurt.