The Channel Tunnel: Larger Than Life, and Late

by Virginia Fairweather, Editor in Chief; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY. 47th St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1994, Vol. 64, Issue 5, Pg. 42-46

Document Type: Feature article


The Channel tunnel opens in May, but passenger service will be delayed while final testing on trains and electrical systems are completed. The English Channel tunnel crossing is the world's largest privatized project, and original cost estimates doubled during construction to about $14.9 billion. A $2.25 billion claim by the contractor, Trans Manche Link against the owner, Eurotunnel, is still outstanding and will probably not be settled for several years. The history of the financing, the concession between the governments of France and England, and the organization of the project are described. Over 200 banks and almost 600,000 shareholders are involved in the project and the project will not provide payback until the next century. The British government will not provide high speed rail service from London to the tunnel portal on their side of the Channel for seven years. Several project veterans talk about their experiences, commenting on the original contract terms that may have led to the contractors, claim, and on bureaucracy and delays in the work. Statistics on the crossing are given on the diameter and length of the rail and service tunnels, the duration of the journey from London to Paris and cost compared to existing ferries.

Subject Headings: Tunnels | Lifeline systems | Electrical systems | Claims | Contractors and subcontractors | Government | Passengers | Privatization | Europe | United Kingdom | France | London | England | Paris

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