The Channel Tunnel: Connecting England and France

July 14, 2016

Service TunnelThe idea to build a tunnel linking England and France first came about in 1802. Throughout the years many people had ideas and plans to link the two countries but it took more than 180 years to make it actually happen. 

The privately financed project, owned by Eurotunnel began in 1986. This lofty project would build an undersea leg that spans the English Channel between England and France. 

Bechtel’s involvement began in 1987 and the company was later asked to play a larger role. Bechtel accepted the challenge helped to get the project on track.

Channel Tunnel Project Facts: 

  • The Channel Tunnel consists of two rail tunnels and one service tunnel, each 32 miles (51 kilometers) in length.
  • The "Chunnel" connects Folkestone in Kent, England, with Coquelles in Pas-de-Calais, France.
  • Constructing Channel TunnelMany of the tunnel boring machines used on the Chunnel were as long as two football fields and capable of boring 250 feet a day.
  • At its lowest point, it is 250 feet deep and at 24 miles long, the tunnel has the longest undersea portion of any in the world.
  • When construction began, British and French tunnel workers raced to reach the middle of the tunnel first. The British won
  • Bechtel's project team dug some 48 miles (77 kilometers) of tunnel—a world record.
  • The chalk marl excavated from Chunnel was used to create Samphire Hoe Park, a 74-acre nature reserve in Kent England. 

British and French tunnel workers reach the middleThe project was completed in May of 1994 and opened for passenger service that November. For travelers and the haulage industry, the Channel Tunnel dramatically shortening travel time between London and Paris. 

Since commercial services started more than 366 million passengers have traveled through the Channel Tunnel, the equivalent to five times the population of the United Kingdom.

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