Eurotunnel back to full capacity
Eurotunnel back to full capacity Feb 2009
High-speed trains are once again running at full service in the Channel Tunnel, four months after a fire aboard a shuttle freight train caused serious damage and seriously limited train traffic under the Channel between France and Great Britain.
Vinci Energies, Freyssinet and Eurovia Travaux Ferroviaires (ETF) won the £46m contract to renovate the roughly 650m of damaged tunnel. The total cost of the rehabilitation is more than £60 million.
Fig 1

Hydrodemolition of spalled concrete

A month after the September 11, 2008 fire, work began to repair the damaged section of tunnel. High-pressure water jets removed the damaged concrete to the reinforcing steel of the precast concrete segmental lining and a new shotcrete lining was applied. Some 4,000 tonne of new concrete was used in the repair that was completed on 28 January 2009. Equipment repairs were complete by early February with the tunnel opened to 100% capacity on February 9, 2009.
Freyssinet was responsible for the civil engineering works, while ETF repaired the track and electrical systems, with Vinci Energiescompleting repair of other equipment.
Geoff Hoon, UK Secretary of State for Transport, present for the reopening celebration said: “This really is a fantastic achievement. Eurotunnel has done a magnificent job in bringing this vital piece of European high-speed transport infrastructure back into full service so quickly.”
Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive of Eurotunnel declared, “The departure signal given by the UK Secretary of State for Transport is a tribute to the staff of this company who have completed the reconstruction project under budget and ahead of schedule. We take encouragement from this moment. From here we intend to step up and expand our business.”
Fig 1

Tunnel cross section

The fire, which the French Interior Ministry attributed to the overturning of a truck carrying chemicals (see feedback) on a France-bound freight train, burned for more than 15 hours and reached temperatures in excess of 1,000°C. Fourteen of the 32 truck drivers traveling in the train's passenger carriage suffered minor smoke inhalation as they evacuated the train and entered the central emergency/service tunnel between the main running tunnels, and were taken to hospital for observation. The fire was reported about 11km from the French portal of the tunnel's northbound tube. Eurotunnel lost an estimated £185 million (€200 million) in revenue during the four months of limited services.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Donald Lamont, Civil Engineering Inspector, Channel Tunnel Safety Authority

Feb 2009

In your article on the Channel Tunnel fire you state "The fire, that started on a chemical lorry on a France-bound freight train,". I believe this to be speculation and probably incorrect speculation at that. The formal BEATT report into the fire is yet to be published but in any case Eurotunnel operates a strict dangerous goods vehicle policy which specifically prohibits "chemical lorries". A vehicle on the train may have been carrying a small quantity of permitted "chemicals" but that is very different from a full lorry load.

See for more information about BEATT.


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