The Channel Tunnel (French: Le tunnel sous la Manche), also referred to as the Eurotunnel is a 50.45-kilometre (31.35 mi) railway tunnel that connects Folkestone (Kent, England, UK) with Coquelles (Hauts-de-France, France) beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. It is the only fixed link between the island of Great Britain and the European mainland. At its lowest point, it is 75 m (250 ft) deep below the sea bed and 115 m (380 ft) below sea level. At 37.9 kilometres (23.5 mi), the tunnel has the longest underwater section of any tunnel in the world, and is the third longest railway tunnel in the world. The speed limit for trains through the tunnel is 160 km/h (100 mph). The Channel Tunnel is owned and operated by Getlink.
|Location||English Channel (Strait of Dover)|
|Start||Folkestone, Kent, England,|
|End||Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France, France|
|Character||Through-rail passenger and freight. Vehicle shuttle.|
|Line length||50.45 km (31.35 mi)|
|No. of tracks||2 single track tunnels|
1 service tunnel
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) (standard gauge)|
|Electrified||25 kV AC overhead lines, 5.87 m|
|Operating speed||160 km/h (100 mph) (track safety restrictions)|
200 kilometres per hour (120 mph) (possible by track geometry, not yet allowed)
Channel Tunnel / Eurotunnel
Distances from Castle Hill Tunnel Portal
Distances to terminals measured around terminal loops
The tunnel carries high-speed Eurostar passenger trains, the Eurotunnel Shuttle for road vehicles and international freight trains. The tunnel connects end-to-end with the high-speed railway lines of the LGV Nord in France and High Speed 1 in England. In 2017, through rail services carried 10.3 million passengers and 1.22 million tonnes of freight, and the Shuttle carried 10.4 million passengers, 2.6 million cars, 51,000 coaches, and 1.6 million lorries (equivalent to 21.3 million tonnes of freight). This compares with 11.7 million passengers, 2.6 million lorries and 2.2 million cars by sea through the Port of Dover.
Plans to build a cross-Channel fixed link appeared as early as 1802, but British political and media pressure over the compromising of national security had disrupted attempts to build a tunnel. An early unsuccessful attempt at building a tunnel was made in the late 19th century, on the English side, "in the hope of forcing the hand of the English Government". The eventual successful project, organised by Eurotunnel, began construction in 1988 and opened in 1994. Valued at £5.5 billion in 1985, it was at the time the most expensive construction project ever proposed. The cost finally amounted to £9 billion (equivalent to £16 billion in 2019), well over its predicted budget.
Since at least 1997, people have attempted to use the tunnel to travel illegally to the UK, causing many migrants to head towards Calais and creating ongoing issues of human rights violations, illegal immigration, diplomatic disagreement, and violence.