Renovation interval 6

This page retrospectively retraces the steps taken by Eurotunnel to fully reopen its infrastructure following the fire on a truck carried by one of its Shuttles in September 2008.

Timeline for return to normal operations

23 February 2009

>> Situation update – Restoration of full service levels for Eurostar

renovation interval page-pic1As announced on 9 February, day of full reopening of the Channel Tunnel, Eurostar is reverting to a full timetable from
23 February: around 60 Eurostar trains will run daily trough the Channel Tunnel and at full speed, i.e. 160 km/h. Journey times are therefore back to just 2h15 for London to Paris, 1h51 for London to Brussels and 1h20 for London to Lille.

9 February 2009

>> Situation update - Reopening of interval 6 and resumption of normal commercial operation

At 3:20pm on 9 February (local time), on the Folkestone Terminal, Secretary for Transport, Geoff Hoon, gave the departure signal for the first commercial Shuttle service to cross the Channel Tunnel via interval 6 since September 2008. This Shuttle carried on board 30 trucks and their drivers. The crossing took just 32 minutes.


Eurotunnel is, once again, fully open to traffic between the United Kingdom and Continental Europe and Shuttles are again able to travel at normal operating speed of 140 km/h:

  • Passenger Shuttles: up to 4 departures per hour and per direction
  • Truck Shuttles: up to 6 departures per hour and per direction.

Eurostar will shortly be back to normal journey times from London to Paris (2hrs 15) and London to Brussels ( 1hr 51) and a new improved timetable will be available from 23 February.


6 February 2009

>> Situation update - Test phase

The last works train left interval 6 on 6 February, bringing to an end the re-equipping works in interval 6. The final phase of tests is already going on and consists of:

  • checking the correct geometry of the tunnel roof and walls with scans;
  • checking track and signalling quality by ultrasound surveys using a special train known as ' The Mauzin ' . Its 21 sensors are used to check the longitudinal and vertical levels of the track and its radius of curvature as well as the gauge;
  • remote control testing on equipment in interval 6, by the Railway Control Centre (RCC), including the opening and closing of the cross-passage doors, piston relief ducts, and the powering up and down of electrical cabling;
  • catenary geometry checks using a video train, the recordings of which are analysed;
  • clearance testing using a ' dynamic gauge ' module on the works train.


These tests also included empty running and at various speed of Passenger and Truck Shuttles and even of one Eurostar. This testing phase is carried out according to the service resumption process submitted by Eurotunnel and agreed by the Intergovernmental Commission (IGC).

23 January 2009

>> Situation update - Restoration works near completion

renovation-interval-page-pic8 The phase of concreting (shotcrete) the 650 metres of damaged lining, which took only a month, was completed on 9 January.
In parallel, the works to re-equip interval 6 which started in early January are in being completed. These works consist of the installation of equipment and associated fixtures, such as electrical power cables, cooling pipes, catenary, rail, and safety devices.

The test phase, which includes checking the equipment is working correctly and running test trains through the Tunnel, will begin soon. If there are no last-minute setbacks, Eurotunnel will reopen interval 6 to commercial operations during the night of 9 to 10 February and therefore resume full operational capacity – (see press release published on 19 January 2009).

Early December 2008

>> Situation update - Phase of restoration works in interval 6

The main phase of the works, concreting, began at the start of December. High performance, economical and reliable, spraying on ‘drier type’ concrete (shotcrete), i.e. with low water content, was chosen. In total, 4,000 tonnes of concrete will be sprayed via compressed air through hoses. More than 300 people working in round-the-clock shifts are currently mobilised to move the works forward.


Mid-October - End of November 2008

renovation-interval-page-pic11>> Situation update - Phase of preliminary works

While waiting for interval 6 to be handed back from the legal authorities, Eurotunnel anticipated procurement for the work site and implemented solid logistics, in order to reduce time and costs.

These preliminary works consist of two parts: the logistics and the preparation of the damaged area.


  • installation of premises and facilities - office spaces, catering, locker and shower rooms - dedicated to the works technical team,
  • creation of areas for delivering supplies of parts and building material to the worksite and for the reconditioning and repairing of some of the Tunnel's equipment,
  • organisation of two rail transportation system - the first to transport workers to the worksite onboard a 100-seater wagon, the second to transport equipment, machines and building material to the worksite,
  • construction of 650m long temporary roadway alongside the worksite area in interval 6, which facilitates the access of staff, the movement of parts and building materials used and the circulation of automated construction vehicles,
  • construction within the worksite of a concrete factory, comprising 3 10m3 tanks, an airtight mixer unit fitted with anti-dust filtration system and compressed air concrete spraying units.

Preparation of the damaged area:

  • removal of some equipment within the worksite (catenary, cooling pipes, electrical equipment,…),
  • hydrodemolition of damaged concrete using automated remote control robots with high-pressure water jetting,
  • phase of tests, surveying studies, calculation of required shotcrete lining thickness,
  • assembly of a 550m long scaffolding specially built for the Tunnel environment,
  • reconstruction of steel reinforced mesh on some of the segments.

Friday 31 October 2008

>> Situation update - October's traffic considerably greater than expected

Despite the temporary unavailability of one of the 6 intervals of the Channel Tunnel where a 650m section is being repaired, Eurotunnel's activity indicators for the month of October 2008 have held up and even exceeded expectations:

  • 5,676 missions (Eurotunnel Truck and Passenger Shuttles, Eurostar, goods trains) used the Tunnel in October, which represent more than 60% of the average monthly missions recorded in 2007
  • Shuttle Services have achieved record load factors for the month of October, in particular for the Truck Shuttle service: 90% load factor compared to 75% in 2007
  • The very symbolic milestone of the 14 millionth truck carried on our Shuttles since the opening of this service in July 1994 was reached on 11 October 2008.

Friday 10 October 2008

>> 7pm (GMT) – Situation update

Eurotunnel has approved today contracts for the supervision and achievement of the works to renovate Interval 6 of the North Tunnel of the Channel Tunnel.

The project will be supervised by SETEC and the works themselves conducted by a group of companies comprising:

  • Freyssinet (Group Leader): Civil Engineering
  • ETF (Eurovia Travaux Ferroviaires): Track and overhead wire
  • Vinci Energies: Other equipment (Axima, Vinci subcontractor will be responsible for the cooling system).

Part of the procurement will be carried out directly by Eurotunnel. Eurotunnel teams have already begun to prepare the work site (particularly the installation of accommodation and site offices).

SETEC and the group of companies have committed to a construction period of approximately 4 months, the target being to enable the complete reopening of the Tunnel in mid February 2009.

The total budget for the restoration of the Tunnel is expected to be less than €60 million.

renovation-interval-page-pic13Wednesday 1 October 2008

>> 3pm (GMT) – Situation update

Today, Wednesday 1 October at 3pm (GMT), Eurotunnel removed the first third of the Truck Shuttle damaged in the incident in September from interval 6 of the North rail tunnel.

As observers were able to witness, the locomotive, the club car in which the HGV drivers travel and the first wagons are intact.

Monday 29 September 2008

>> 7:45am (GMT) – Situation update

Eurotunnel has brought interval four of the Channel Tunnel, the middle section of the North Tunnel, back into service.

Following the restart of services in the South Tunnel on 13 September, then the re introduction of the first part of the North Tunnel on 22 September, five out of the six intervals which make up the Channel Tunnel are now operational.

This good news will enable an increase in traffic, notably by stepping up departure frequency (traffic will now leave in “flights” every 90 minutes instead of every 2 hours) and by raising capacity, from 170 trains per 24 hour period to 210, from 1 October 2008.

With between 55 and 58 paths provided per day, according to its requirements, almost 100% of normal capacity will be available to Eurostar. Eurostar is planning a modified timetable in order to best utilize the capacity provided by Eurotunnel.

Eurotunnel Shuttle Services:

  • The number of Truck Shuttles will increase to 98 per day during the week and 34 per day at weekends, the equivalent to a transport capacity of approximately 17,000 trucks per week;
  • Passenger Shuttles will increase to 30 per day during the week and 52 per day at weekends, equivalent to a transport capacity of approximately 41,000 cars per week.
    Rail freight trains will use the Tunnel at night.

Rail freight trains will use the Tunnel at night.


Monday 22 September 2008

>> 3:15am (GMT) – Situation update

Bringing a 17km long section of the North Tunnel back into service this morning, 22 September, at 3:15am enables Eurotunnel to increase the number of trains running through the Tunnel to almost 170 per day.

Operating the whole South Tunnel, Interval 2 of the North Tunnel and the UK “Cross over” gives an approximately 50% improvement in the service Eurotunnel currently offers, bringing it to 44 Eurostars, 90 Truck Shuttles, 29 Passenger Shuttles and a varying number of rail freight trains per day.

Technical staff are working round the clock to bring a second 17km long section of the North Tunnel back into service in the next few days. This will further improve the quality of service available.

Since 13 September, Eurotunnel has given priority to customers who had already made reservations. The increase in the number of Passenger Shuttles will enable Eurotunnel once more to provide a regular service and customers are therefore advised that reservations are now available for departures planned after 5 October 2008.


Thursday 18 September 2008

>> 7:30am (GMT) – Situation update

Currently, the traffic for all rail services - Eurotunnel’s Truck and Passenger Shuttles, Eurostar passenger trains and rail freight trains - is running in the South Tunnel (indicated in green on the plan below).

As the next step, Eurotunnel aims to recover interval 2, and then interval 4 (indicated in orange on the plan below) for commercial operations.

The section (interval 6) damaged by the incident in the North Tunnel is shown in red on this plan.

Plan of the Channel Tunnel railway installations


Sunday 14 September 2008

>> 10am (BST) – Situation update

Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttle services restarted early this morning, Sunday 14 September. The first car carrying shuttle left Folkestone at 0618 local time, followed by a second from Coquelles at 0803 CET. In order to facilitate the restart of Passenger Shuttle services they will, initially, only be available to customers who already have a reservation for travel.

Less than three days after the fire, all Channel Tunnel services are once again operational:

  • 80 Truck and Passenger Shuttles,
  • 24 Eurostars between London and Paris,
  • 12 Eurostars between London and Brussels and,
  • on average, six rail freight trains every 24 hours.

For further information on departures, go to

Saturday 13 September 2008

>> 2pm (BST) – Situation update

The progressive resuming of commercial services in the Channel Tunnel planned for the 13 and 14 September (total per day and in both directions) consists of crossings for 80 Eurotunnel Truck Shuttles between Folkestone and Coquelles, 24 Eurostar trains between London and Paris, 12 Eurostar between London and Bruxelles and about 7 rail freight trains.
The Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttle service remains temporarily suspended.

>> 8:32am (BST) – Situation update

Eurostar 9004 has just crossed through the Channel Tunnel and is heading for the Paris-Nord station.

>> 7:20am (BST) – Situation update

A first Eurostar train which left St Pancras International station just before 7:00am (BST), is heading for the Channel Tunnel.
9004 Eurostar is expected to arrive at the English portal of the Tunnel at 7:57am (BST).

Friday 12 September 2008

>> 11:53pm (BST) - Situation update

Channel Tunnel traffic has resumes using the South Tunnel.
The first Truck Shuttle which left the Folkestone Terminal with 27 vehicles on board arrived on time in Coquelles.
Earlier, two freight trains ran across the Channel Tunnel in the same direction.

>> 8pm (BST) - Situation update

The technical verifications currently being carried out by Eurotunnel teams confirm that the South Tunnel can be opened again for service.
It is intended that a test train will then run through the entire South Tunnel at 100km/h.
These remaining controls should result in the reopening of the South Tunnel with traffic being resumed progressively in close collaboration with Eurostar.

>> 12pm (BST) - Situation update

The binational plan that hands responsibility for operations to the Public Authorities has been lifted by the "Préfet" of the Pas-de-Calais.
Eurotunnel takes over the infrastructure and its technicians have just started on-site inspections of the South Tunnel which is necessary before resuming commercial service.

>> 11am (BST) – Situation update

At 10:30am (BST), all remaining fire spots were extinguished by the fire crews.

>> 10am (BST) – Situation update

The fire which had been burning in the North tunnel of the Channel Tunnel was brought under control at 07:00 (BST), and the main seat of the fire extinguished thanks to the combined efforts of the Kent and Pas-de-Calais fire brigades.Eurotunnel teams will now begin carrying out safety inspections in the South tunnel, which was unaffected by the incident.
All the Company's efforts are now focused on resuming limited operations as soon as possible.

>> 7:30am (BST) - Press release: Channel Tunnel traffic suspended

A fire broke out just before 3pm (BST) on Thursday 11 September on board a Eurotunnel Shuttle carrying trucks in the North Running Tunnel under the Channel. The Channel Tunnel consists of three tunnels, two for rail traffic and a third for maintenance and, when the need arises, for evacuation. The train was travelling from England to France and was approximately 11km from the French tunnel exit.

Eurotunnel’s security systems, on board the Shuttle and in the Tunnel, immediately detected the problem. The fire service based close to the French portal was quickly able to assess the situation and take the necessary action to get the fire under control.

Incendie Thirty-two people who were on board the shuttle were quickly evacuated into Eurotunnel’s Service Tunnel.

Three other trains using the Tunnel at the time were immediately redirected back to England.

The South Tunnel was not affected by the incident. As soon as possible it will undergo a detailed inspection before being brought back into service.

The Channel Tunnel has been designed and operates in accordance with the highest levels of safety. Every year, a major binational exercise is organised to test the safety procedures.

Eurotunnel considers at this stage that the financial impact of this incident will be limited and its operational losses are covered by insurance.

France’s Home Secretary, Mme Michèle Alliot-Marie was on the scene at Coquelles with the ‘Préfet’ of the Pas-de-Calais region, Rémi Caron, and praised the skill and professionalism of the emergency service and Eurotunnel teams who dealt with the situation quickly and effectively.

Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive of Eurotunnel, declared “I would like to thank our staff for their swift actions to protect our customers. Eurotunnel is conscious of the disruption caused by this situation and will do all it can to restore the best possible service as soon as this can be done. Eurotunnel is well-equipped to deal with any operational incident and has demonstrated its abilities to respond effectively”.