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.
In 1803, the Englishman Henry Mottray unveils another project for a cross-Channel fixed link: a submerged tunnel made of prefabricated iron sections.
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.
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.
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.
Louis Blériot was the first to fly an aeroplane across the Strait of Dover and in 37 minutes.
Harold Macmillan, British Defence Minister, announced that he no longer opposed a fixed link on military ground.
Louis Armand formed the Channel Tunnel Study Group (GETM).
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.
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.
Harold Wilson, British Minister, announced that the project is stopped and withdrawn for financial reasons and in particular due to the oil crisis.
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.
The British and French governments issued an Invitation to submit schemes.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Launch of the Eurotunnel logo, representing the holding company comprising the Concessionaires « France-Manche » and « The Channel Tunnel Group Limited ».
Formation of the Eurotunnel group’s companies and signature of the construction contract between Eurotunnel and TransManche Link (TML).
In Paris, Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand ratified the Treaty of Canterbury, paving the way for the Channel Tunnel to become a reality.
Boring of the service tunnel starts on the UK side.
Start of the service tunnel boring on the French side.
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.
22 May at 12:00 CET
Breakthrough in the North rail tunnel.
28 June at 12:50 CET
Breakthrough in the South rail tunnel.
System handed over to Eurotunnel by TML.
January to April
Equipment installation, completion work and testing on the whole Concession (tunnels, terminals, etc).
Official opening by Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand.
First international freight train in commercial service through the Channel Tunnel.
Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Truck Shuttle service.
Start of the commercial Eurostar service through the Channel Tunnel.
Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttle service for cars.
Opening ceremony of the commercial centre Cité-Europe, next to the Coquelles Terminal.
Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Shuttle service for coaches.
Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Shuttle service for motorcycles.
Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Shuttle service for camper vans and caravans.
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.
Official agreement from governments to extend the Concession to 2086, consequence of the first financial restructuring.
Opening ceremony of the F46 building, the longest railway workshop in the world, on the Coquelles Terminal (828 m).
Commercial launch of the first new Arbel Truck Shuttle.
Eurotunnel is named Top Construction Achievement of the 20th century for the Channel Tunnel.
End of duty free within the European Union.
Eurotunnel presents a road tunnel project to the two governments, as required by the Concession Agreement.
Start of the Pet Travel Scheme for cats and dogs.
New platforms and tracks are put into service on the Folkestone and Coquelles Terminals, to increase capacity for the Truck Shuttle service.
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.
Opening of the first section of the high speed rail link in the UK.
Eurotunnel is the first private company to be granted a rail operator’s licence valid across Europe, following the liberalisation of rail freight.
A group of shareholders renewed the entire Board of directors during the General Meeting.
Launch of a new commercial and operation strategy, in particular for the Truck Shuttle service.
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.
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.
Conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding, a framework agreement outlining the proposed financial restructuring.
A binding preliminary restructuring agreement on the financial restructuring is signed.
Filing a safeguard procedure to place the company under the protection of the Paris Commercial court.
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.
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.
Opening of automatic check-in lanes on Eurotunnel freight Terminals, which allowed a reduction in transit time for trucks.
Transport of the 100 millionth customer on Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttle.
Eurotunnel carries out its first carbon footprint, which highlights its commitment to protecting the environment.
The Tour de France teams travel through the Channel Tunnel.
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.
Implementation of a new simplified pricing system and reform of the access conditions to the Tunnel, to boost rail freight.
Commercial opening of High Speed 1 and inauguration, by the Queen,of St Pancras International, the new station for Eurostar trains in London.
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.
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.
In interval 6 of the North Tunnel, a fire broke out on a truck carried on board a Eurotunnel Shuttle.
End of renovation work and reopening of interval 6 to commercial operations, following the end 2008 fire.
Eurotunnel is certified by the Carbon Trust Standard for its environmental policy, its efforts to manage and reduce its carbon footprint.
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.
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.
50 million vehicles have crossed the Channel on board Eurotunnel Shuttles since 1994.
Crossing of the 15 millionth truck on board one of the Eurotunnel Truck Shuttles.
Inclusion of Groupe Eurotunnel SA share in the MSCI Global Standard and MSCI Growth indices.
500,000 dogs and cats have crossed the Channel on board Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttles, since 2000.
Inauguration of the Coquelles wind farm, comprising 3 turbines of 2.4MW total capacity, which confirms Eurotunnel’s commitment to renewable energies.
Opening of a new commercial service for domestic equidae on board Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttles.
Acquisition by Groupe Eurotunnel of GB Railfreight, 3rd largest rail freight operator in the UK, completing the Europorte entity.
Inclusion of Groupe Eurotunnel SA share in the « CAC Next 20 » indice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ».
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Groupe Eurotunnel becomes ship owner via its EuroTransmanche subsidiary who leases 3 ferries at market price to an independent operating company (My Ferry Link).
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.
First day of trading for GET share on NYSE Euronext London: Groupe Eurotunnel is the first company to be admitted on this market.
Successful launch of mobile telephone and internet services in the Channel Tunnel (south rail tunnel) with the French mobile telephone operators.
Start of commercial operations for MyFerryLink between the ports of Dover and Calais.
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.
Eurotunnel celebrates the 300th millionth person to travel through the Channel Tunnel since1994, the equivalent to almost 5 times the population of the United Kingdom.
Europorte and Ceravia (the agricultural cooperative) create a Local Railway Operator: Bourgogne Fret Services.
Europorte has won the tender process launched by the Grand port Maritime of La Rochelle to take over the management, operation and maintenance of its railway network.
Ninth Passenger Shuttle brought back into commercial service.
Long- term partnership signed between Eurotunnel Group and the Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, a top French engineering school: creation of a special science chair for railway transport.
1,100 visitors discovered the behind the scenes of the Channel Tunnel during the European Heritage Days and in particular for the first time, the Eurotunnel terminal and the railway Control Centre (RCC) in Folkestone.
The Channel Tunnel wins the Global engineering century award as the most significant majord building project in the last 100 years, a prize given by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC).
"Best CSR policy for a major group" award received at the first "Nuit de l'Entreprise Responsable et Solidaire" in recognition of all the initiatives undertaken in terms of sustainable development.
Broadcast of the Anglo-French detective series "The Tunnel" by Sky Atlantic and Canal+ in which the Channel Tunnel, the Shuttles and the maintenance workshops are at the centre of the plot.
20 years after its official opening, the Channel Tunnel, which is part of the national and world heritage, is symbolically on display panels installed close by on the A16 motorway in France.