History

The Eurotunnel Project

Construction period of the Channel Tunnel

Start of operations

Financial restructuring

Operational activity (next)

Growth of activity

1802

In 1802, French mining engineer Albert Mathieu-Favier put forward the first ever design for a cross-Channel fixed link based on the principle of a bored two-level tunnel: the top one, paved and lit by oil lamps, to be used by horse-drawn stagecoaches; the bottom one would be used for groundwater flows.

1803

In 1803, the Englishman Henry Mottray unveils another project for a cross-Channel fixed link: a submerged tunnel made of prefabricated iron sections.

1834

From 1830, the advent of steam trains and the construction of the rail network in Britain led to the first proposals for a rail tunnel. By the mid 19th century, French mining engineer, Aimé Thomé de Gamond, spent 30 years working on seven different designs.


1855

25 August

During the state visit to France in Versailles, Queen Victoria and Napoléon III approve the proposed undersea tunnel designed by Thomé de Gamond, which was later on presented in the Exposition Universelle of Paris in 1867.


1880

The first attempt of a tunnel excavation began in 1880 when the « Beaumont & English » tunnel boring machine began digging undersea on both sides of the Channel.

1909

25 July

Louis Blériot was the first to fly an aeroplane across the Strait of Dover and in 37 minutes.

1955

February

Harold Macmillan, British Defence Minister, announced that he no longer opposed a fixed link on military ground.

1957

26 July

Louis Armand formed the Channel Tunnel Study Group (GETM).

1960

July

The Channel Tunnel Study Group presents to the governments a proposal of railway tunnel, bored of submerged, comprising a twin rail tunnel with a service tunnel.

1973

17 November

The project of the construction and the operations of a railway tunnel under the Channel is finally launched in 1973 at Chequers by Edward Heath, British Prime Minister, and Georges Pompidou, French President, when a Franco-British Channel Tunnel Treaty was signed.

1975

20 January

Harold Wilson, British Minister, announced that the project is stopped and withdrawn for financial reasons and in particular due to the oil crisis.

1984

30 November

The British and French Governments reached an agreement on a consultation process with private promoters for the construction and operation of a cross-Channel fixed link, without public funding.

1985

2 April

The British and French governments issued an Invitation to submit schemes.

1985

31 October

Four proposals corresponding to the specifications are received for consideration by the Franco-British assessment Committee.

The Eurotunnel project:

A proposal based on the 1972-1975 scheme: 2 one-way rail tunnels for Shuttle trains (carrying cars and trucks) and high speed trains, with a third service tunnel connected at regular intervals to the main tunnels.

The 3 other proposals include the following projects: Eurobridge (a suspension bridge – see image), Euroroute (a set of artificial islands, bridges and a tunnel) and Channel Expressway (rail and road tunnels).

1986

20 January

Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand announced in Lille that the Eurotunnel bid presented by a Franco-British Consortium « France-Manche-Channel Tunnel Group », has been selected.

12 February

In the Canterbury cathedral and in the presence of the British Prime Minister and the French President, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of both countries signed the Franco-British Treaty of Canterbury, which prepared the Concession for the construction and operation of a cross-Channel Fixed Link by private companies. This Treaty set up the Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) responsible for monitoring all matters associated with the construction and operation of the Tunnel on behalf of both governments, together with a Safety Authority to advise the IGC.

14 March

The Concession Agreement for the construction, the financing and operation of the Channel Tunnel was awarded to the Franco-British Consortium « France- Manche SA / The Channel Tunnel Group Ltd» for a period of 55 years.

19 May

Launch of the Eurotunnel logo, representing the holding company comprising the Concessionaires « France-Manche » and « The Channel Tunnel Group Limited ».

13 August

Formation of the Eurotunnel group’s companies and signature of the construction contract between Eurotunnel and TransManche Link (TML).

1987

29 July

In Paris, Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand ratified the Treaty of Canterbury, paving the way for the Channel Tunnel to become a reality.

1987

15 December

Boring of the service tunnel starts on the UK side.

1988

28 February

Start of the service tunnel boring on the French side.

1990

1st December at 12:12 CET

British and French teams achieved the first historic breakthrough under the Channel, in the service tunnel at 22.3 km from the UK and 15.6 from France.

1991

22 May at 12:00 CET

Breakthrough in the North rail tunnel.

28 June at 12:50 CET

Breakthrough in the South rail tunnel.

1993

10 December

System handed over to Eurotunnel by TML.

1994

January to April

Equipment installation, completion work and testing on the whole Concession (tunnels, terminals, etc).

1994

6 May

Official opening by Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand.

1st June

First international freight train in commercial service through the Channel Tunnel.

25 July

Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Truck Shuttle service.

14 November

Start of the commercial Eurostar service through the Channel Tunnel.

22 December

Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttle service for cars.

1995

21 March

Opening ceremony of the commercial centre Cité-Europe, next to the Coquelles Terminal.

26 June

Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Shuttle service for coaches.

31 August

Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Shuttle service for motorcycles.

29 September

Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Shuttle service for camper vans and caravans.

1997

17 July

Opening to the public of Samphire Hoe, a nature reserve created by Eurotunnel at the foot of Shakespeare Cliff (Between Folkestone and Dover) during the construction of the Tunnel.

19 December

Official agreement from governments to extend the Concession to 2086, consequence of the first financial restructuring.

1998

15 June

Opening ceremony of the F46 building, the longest railway workshop in the world, on the Coquelles Terminal (828 m).

1999

11 January

Commercial launch of the first new Arbel Truck Shuttle.

23 March

Eurotunnel is named Top Construction Achievement of the 20th century for the Channel Tunnel.

1st July

End of duty free within the European Union.

30 December

Eurotunnel presents a road tunnel project to the two governments, as required by the Concession Agreement.

2000

28 February

Start of the Pet Travel Scheme for cats and dogs.

2002

21 October

New platforms and tracks are put into service on the Folkestone and Coquelles Terminals, to increase capacity for the Truck Shuttle service.

December

Implementation of a registration plate recognition system at the Truck Shuttle check-ins, in order to improve the truck tracking system on sites already in place since 1999.

2003

28 September

Opening of the first section of the high speed rail link in the UK.

2004

13 February

Eurotunnel is the first private company to be granted a rail operator’s licence valid across Europe, following the liberalisation of rail freight.

7 April

A group of shareholders renewed the entire Board of directors during the General Meeting.

2005

3 January

Launch of a new commercial and operation strategy, in particular for the Truck Shuttle service.

12 December

Implementation of 24 automatic check-in lanes for the Passenger Shuttle service on the Folkestone and Coquelles Terminals, in order to increase traffic flow and to speed up loading operations onto the Shuttles.

2005

6 July

Incorporation of the Groupe Eurotunnel SA, a French public limited company (Société Anonyme), holding company of the group and registered at the Paris Trade and Companies registry.

2006

31 January

Conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding, a framework agreement outlining the proposed financial restructuring.

24 May

A binding preliminary restructuring agreement on the financial restructuring is signed.

12 July

Filing a safeguard procedure to place the company under the protection of the Paris Commercial court.

2007

15 January

The Paris Commercial court approves the Safeguard Plan put forward by Eurotunnel, which sets out to reduce the debt by half, from 9.2 down to €4bn.

28 June

Implementation of the financial restructuring and settlement of the Groupe Eurotunnel SA Exchange Tender Offer on Eurotunnel SA and Eurotunnel PLC, which will be renamed TNU SA and TNU PLC.

2006

19 April

Opening of automatic check-in lanes on Eurotunnel freight Terminals, which allowed a reduction in transit time for trucks.

27 June

Transport of the 100 millionth customer on Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttle.

September

Eurotunnel carries out its first carbon footprint, which highlights its commitment to protecting the environment.

2007

8 July

The Tour de France teams travel through the Channel Tunnel.

October

The power supply for the catenary (25,000 Volts) can now use only French electricity, which allows to reduce operating costs and to further improve the company’s carbon footprint.

23 October

Implementation of a new simplified pricing system and reform of the access conditions to the Tunnel, to boost rail freight.

14 November

Commercial opening of High Speed 1 and inauguration, by the Queen,of St Pancras International, the new station for Eurostar trains in London.

October

The power supply for the catenary can now use only French electricity, which allows to reduce operating costs and to further improve the company’s carbon footprint.

26 November

Europorte 2, the rail freight subsidiary of Eurotunnel, takes over the ground operations at Frethun (Pas-de-Calais) for all cross-Channel rail freight traffic and traction of goods trains between Dollands Moor (Kent) and Frethun via the Tunnel.

2008

11 September

In interval 6 of the North Tunnel, a fire broke out on a truck carried on board a Eurotunnel Shuttle.

2009

9 February

End of renovation work and reopening of interval 6 to commercial operations, following the end 2008 fire.

14 May

Eurotunnel is certified by the Carbon Trust Standard for its environmental policy, its efforts to manage and reduce its carbon footprint.

June

Implementation of the IRIS system using automated registration plate recognition, in order to further improve traffic flow and speed up the Passenger Shuttles loading process.

30 November

Acquisition by Groupe Eurotunnel of 4 subsidiaries of Veolia Cargo in France, specialised in rail freight and logistics services. Creation of the Europorte entity including Europorte France, Europorte Proximité, Europorte Channel (ex Europorte 2) and Socorail subsidiaries.

16 December

50 million vehicles have crossed the Channel on board Eurotunnel Shuttles since 1994.

2010

27 January

Crossing of the 15 millionth truck on board one of the Eurotunnel Truck Shuttles.

10 February

Inclusion of Groupe Eurotunnel SA share in the MSCI Global Standard and MSCI Growth indices.

1st March

500,000 dogs and cats have crossed the Channel on board Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttles, since 2000.

20 April

Inauguration of the Coquelles wind farm, comprising 3 turbines of 2.4MW total capacity, which confirms Eurotunnel’s commitment to renewable energies.

27 April

Opening of a new commercial service for domestic equidae on board Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttles.

28 May

Acquisition by Groupe Eurotunnel of GB Railfreight, 3rd largest rail freight operator in the UK, completing the Europorte entity.

21 June

Inclusion of Groupe Eurotunnel SA share in the « CAC Next 20 » indice.

21 July

250 million people have already travelled through the Channel Tunnel, a landmark figure and proof of the commercial and operational success of the Fixed Link between the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

From 12 to 19 October

Crossing of an ICE 3 high-speed train from Deutsche Bahn in the Channel Tunnel and success of the technical and evacuation tests prior to the opening of regular services by the German operator via the Tunnel.

14 December

Groupe Eurotunnel is the first cross-Channel operator to launch on its website a carbon counter which enables its Truck Shuttle customers to measure the environmental impact and to compare greenhouse gas emissions for the different means of cross-Channel transport available.

21 December

Subsidiary of the Eurotunnel group, Europorte Services takes charge, as contracted infrastructure manager (a first in France), of the operation and maintenance of the rail network at the port of Dunkirk.

2011

1st January

The majority of the Truck Shuttles expand to 32 carrying wagons (instead of 30 previously), which leads to an increase in transport capacity at a virtually unchanged operating cost.

10 May

Railenium, the future European Institute for Technological research in rail Infrastructure based near Valenciennes (Northern France), of which Eurotunnel is a founding member of the consortium, is allocated funds by the French government as an « investment programme for the future ».

26 May

Groupe Eurotunnel establishes with Star Capital Partners ElecLink, a joint venture to develop a 500MW electricity interconnection between Great Britain and France, through the service tunnel.

12 July

Groupe Eurotunnel as a global organisation is certified by the independent British agency Carbon Trust Standard for its policy and achievements in carbon footprint reduction. Eurotunnel has reduced its carbon footprint by 44% between 2006 and 2008 and by a further 20% from 2009 to 2010, i.e. a cumulative reduction of 55% since 2006.

16 September

Groupe Eurotunnel is listed on the FTSE All-World and FTSE Medium Cap indices, in recognition of the company's performance and its ability to meet the highest standards in the financial sector.

13 November

4 SAFE fire-fighting stations build in the middle of rail tunnels became operational. These stations, accessible within a few minutes by Shuttles, automatically disperse a mist of pressurised micro droplets onto the site of a hotspot which would have been detected. This system, which is unique in the world, contributes to protect the structure of the Channel Tunnel and to guarantee its availability.

2012

2 February

Groupe Eurotunnel officially opened the International railway training Centre in Coquelles (CIFFCO), manifesting its desire to contribute to the creation of qualified staff, to play a driving role in developing the rail industry and to continue supporting the economic development of the Calais region.

3 February

The Channel Tunnel, outstanding engineering feat and symbol of the Anglo-French partnership, is recognised as one the 4 more important mile stones during the rein of the House of Windsor. It has been selected as one of the Royal Mail commemorative stamps set as part of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee (June 2012).

21 March

First crossing in the Channel Tunnel of a high-speed freight Euro Carex train which connected Lyon airport to London, via Paris-Roissy airport, demonstrating the efficiency, speed and environmental benefits of an intermodal transportation system combining air containers and high-speed rail network.

11 June

Groupe Eurotunnel becomes ship owner via its EuroTransmanche subsidiary who leases 3 ferries at market price to an independent operating company (My Ferry Link).

18 July

The Olympic Torch travels through the Channel Tunnel and visits the Eurotunnel nature reserve at Samphire Hoe on its relay route to the London Games.

19 July

First day of trading for GET share on NYSE Euronext London: Groupe Eurotunnel is the first company to be admitted on this market.

25 July

Successful launch of mobile telephone and internet services in the Channel Tunnel (south rail tunnel).

17 September

Official opening of the new Eurotunnel Passenger Terminal building in Folkestone, newly refurbished to the highest international airport standards and christened Victor Hugo Terminal to clearly identify it as the gateway to France.

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