Friday, September 12, 2008

Tunnel Trouble

I rode the Eurostar between Brussels and London a number of times after it opened in the mid 90's.  A wonderful, comfortable journey.  I don't know it the "Chunnel" ever has met it's financial goals, but it definitely has made a significant difference in transport between the UK and the Continent.  Compared to the previous unpredictable and limited ferry service, and the high cost air transport, it's been fantastic.

Channel Tunnel Fire
video of French firefighters in the "Chunnel"

The tunnel is closed after the fire broke out about seven miles from Calais on Thursday afternoon. Firefighters say the 16-hour blaze has now been put out.
Thirty-two people on board the freight train were led to safety, and 14 passengers suffered minor injuries.
Eurostar said it "did not expect" to operate any services on Friday.
Passengers were still arriving at St Pancras International in London on Friday hoping services to the Continent would resume.
A spokeswoman said about 30,000 passengers were due to travel on 50 Eurostar services on Friday and they would be offered a full refund or exchange.
"We checked the website around 9pm," said finance manager Kirsty McIntyre, who had planned to spend the weekend in the Champagne region.

The tunnel carries Eurostar express trains between London, Paris and Brussels, as well as freight and passenger shuttles between Folkestone and Calais.
The source of the blaze has not yet been identified but French officials say a lorry carrying chemicals, which is understood to have overturned on the freight train, was close to the seat of the fire.

The  effect that the tunnel has had on commerce between the UK and the Continent can best be demonstrated by looking at the backup of commercial traffic due to it's closure.


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