It runs for 23.5 miles under the sea and has trains designed to stop the drivers becoming HYPNOTISED by the journey: Inside the Channel Tunnel – the busiest railway system in the world
- A new documentary has been given unprecedented access to the Channel Tunnel to mark its 25th birthday
- It runs for 23.5 miles under the English Channel’s seabed and carries over 20million passengers every year
- There are two services through the tunnel – 87mph Le Shuttle services and high-speed Eurostar services
The Channel Tunnel is something of a technological wonder of the world.
It runs for 23.5 miles under the English Channel’s seabed, carries over 20million passengers every year on around 400 trains a day and some of those – the Eurostars – hit speeds of 99mph.
Now, to mark its 25th anniversary, a new documentary series has been given unprecedented access to it – and the people who keep it running. And here we offer a sneak peek of what’s in store.
In The Channel Tunnel – Life On The Inside – we meet ‘Two Stop’ Tash (pictured), who often needs a couple of goes to get her train to stop in the right spot
The Channel Tunnel is something of a technological wonder of the world. Pictured are the Folkestone platforms
In the first episode of the BBC Two series – The Channel Tunnel Life On The Inside – we meet ‘Two Stop’ Tash, who drives Eurotunnel Shuttles and gets teased by her colleagues for struggling to stop her train at the right spot.
She often needs to nudge forward before coming to a halt for the final time.
We also learn about the dangers of ‘segment flicker’, when the ‘relentless waves of lines and lights’ experienced by drivers in tunnels can lead to them becoming hypnotised.
To prevent this, the cabs of the Shuttle trains, which travel at up to 87mph (140kph) in the tunnel, have windows designed with a restricted view.
Describing the first time she drove on her own in the tunnel, Tash says: ‘It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life. Every noise sounded like the train had broken – even a phone ringing.
The Channel Tunnel runs for 23.5 miles under the English Channel’s seabed, carries over 20million passengers every year on around 400 trains a day and some of those – the Eurostars – hit speeds of 99mph. Pictured is the English terminal
The first design for a cross-Channel Tunnel – to be lit by oil lamps for horse drawn carts – was created in 1802. Pictured is the French terminal
‘But the more time you spend down here, you get used to the noises and the movement of the train and start to recognise real faults!’
On the day the cameras joined her in the cab, back in March, she was hauling 32 trucks weighing 2,500 tonnes on a journey lasting about 35 minutes.
The trains take it all in their stride – but sometimes things don’t go according to plan.
Each shuttle is almost 800 metres (2,624ft) long, that’s the length of seven football pitches
On May 6, 1994, the Channel Tunnel was official opened by Queen Elizabeth II and French president Francois Mitterand. Pictured is the French portal
A member of the Eurotunnel team scans an incoming queue of traffic
We also witness the Eurotunnel team choreographing a ‘recirculation’ – taking all the trucks off a broken down train and directing them onto another working Shuttle.
In future episodes the series will reveal why the tunnel isn’t a straight line but bends and weaves like a river beneath the seabed – and how a team must battle to fix overhead cables crackling with 25,000 volts in the ‘wet area’, while keeping an eye out for a family of adders.
The BBC said: ‘With never-before-seen footage and spellbinding stories, The Channel Tunnel – Life On The Inside, reveals what it’s really like inside one of the world’s busiest transport systems.’
- The first episode will air on BBC Two on Wednesday, October 9, at 7.30pm.
DIGGING OUT SOME CHANNEL TUNNEL FACTS
- The first design for a cross-Channel Tunnel – to be lit by oil lamps for horse drawn carts – was created in 1802.
- In 1834 came the first rail tunnel proposal for steam trains.
- In 1880 there was an attempt of tunnel excavation – some of this tunnel still exists today.
- The boring of the service tunnel started in the UK in 1987.
- On May 6, 1994, the Channel Tunnel was official opened by Queen Elizabeth II and French president Francois Mitterand.
- Since completion in 1994, the equivalent of six times the population of the UK has crossed through the tunnel.
- 4G mobile services are available in the tunnel.
- Each shuttle is almost 800 metres (2,624ft) long, that’s the length of seven football pitches.
- In 2007, the Tour de France teams travelled through the Tunnel.
- By 2009, 50million vehicles had crossed the Channel on Eurotunnel Shuttles since 1994.
- The concrete rings that line the tunnels are made of some of the strongest concrete in the world.
- One million e-commerce express delivery parcels travel through the Tunnel each day.
- 13,000 engineers, technicians and workers helped construct the Tunnel.
- It’s the busiest railway system in the world – up to 400 trains a day on 62 miles of track.
- The Eurostars travel at up to 99mph (160kph), while the freight Shuttles travel at a maximum speed of 87mph (140kph).
- 8,500 years ago people were walking between what is now the UK and Continental Europe.
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