Chunnel, Fire, 1996
Similar fire in 1996 caused $70 million worth of damage.

A major fire in the Channel tunnel closed the Anglo-French rail link on Thursday afternoon, 11 September. Thirty two passengers in a burning truck shuttle train were evacuated, some ill with smoke inhalation. By Friday, emergency crews extinguished the fire, which occurred 11 km from the French portal.

More than 150 firefighters from both countries fought the flames in the French-bound train, thought to have started in a truck. No news was available on the tunnel’s condition. A similar fire 12 years ago damaged about 500 meters of tunnel, and triggered a four-month investigation and repair program that cost roughly $70 million.

That fire, also caused by a truck, occurred on a U.K.-bound shuttle 19 km from France. In the most damaged 50 meters, fire destroyed up to half the thickness of the 40-cm-thick segmental lining. Crews repaired some 1,800 square meters of this area with layers of sprayed, fiber-reinforced concrete. The fired also destroyed equipment installed along some 300 meters of tunnel.

Opened to car shuttle trains in 1995, the crossing includes twin 7.6-m-dia. bored tunnels, with centers 30 meters apart. A 4.8-m-dia service tunnel in between provides emergency access. The tunnels are linked with cross passages every 375 meters.

The tunnel is operated by the Anglo-French company Eurotunnel, which is nearly 90% owned by the banks that provided loans for the project’s much over budget construction.