The Channel Tunnel: A Remarkable Feat Of Engineering I Oxford Open Learning

    The Channel Tunnel's

    The Channel Tunnel: A Remarkable Feat Of Engineering

    For many a year, ferries have travelled back and forth across the English Channel, and hopping on board a large boat is something that many people take for granted. Up until 1994, aside from flying, this was the only practical way to cross the body of water between the English coast and the continent of Europe. Then, 30 years ago, on 6 May 1994, the Channel Tunnel opened. This revolutionised travel between the UK and the European continent – and changed the way that many people travel.

    Facts And Figures

    It is fascinating to think about the remarkable nature of this tunnel. It is just over 31 miles long and at its lowest point, it is 75 metres beneath the seabed – and 115 metres below sea level. I don’t know about you but to me this is incredible! Just the thought of building something so massive, so extreme, is beyond a lot of people’s imaginations, let alone actually putting it into practice. Now, if you drive to Folkstone in Kent, you can take your car on the train and in no time at all, you’ll arrive in Coquelles, France. This is the same tunnel used for Eurostar, the train service that runs to different cities in Europe from London’s St. Pancras Station.

    Even though the tunnel opened in 1994, it took a bit longer to get it ready for passengers. Initially, it was used for freight – but later in the same year, passenger trains started running. However, it hasn’t been plain sailing: in 1996, there was a huge fire which temporarily affected the trains, and in 2009, severe snow disturbed electrical works, causing delays. Even so, considering the size of the project, it is surely one of our modern age’s most amazing engineering feats.

    The Channel Tunnel Wasn’t A New Idea

    Many people think the Channel Tunnel, or “Chunnel” as it is sometimes affectionately known, is an idea from the late 20th Century. But no – it is not. Way back in 1802, before Dickens and the Victorian era, a French mining engineer came up with the idea of a tunnel which would run under the English Channel. Isn’t this incredible? I think it is. Obviously, it took a long time to put ideas into practice but considering the scale of the project, that’s no wonder.

    So, if you find yourself whizzing along on a train under the water anytime soon, think about the marvels of modern technology – and how lucky we are to have such a thing in the UK.

    Bon Voyage!


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