Francois Hollande at the Chunnel
The Channel Tunnel carried an average of 25,617 passengers, 3,855 trucks and 7.84 freight trains every day during the first three months of the year.
But the tunnel, completed in 1994, is equipped to shuttle much more than this. Here are a few of the things that we could be sending to the Continent through the Chunnel.
1. A lot more trains
An obvious idea, but the two rail tunnels are capable of taking a lot more trains carrying passengers and freight.
Eurotunnel chief exec Jacques Gounon told City A.M. today that there is “no real limit to deal with new traffic”. Deutsche Bahn is waiting in the wings to set up a rival to the Eurostar – but its trains are still being built by Siemens, so services are not expected until 2016 at the earliest.
When the Channel Tunnel was first proposed in the 19th century, it was originally thought that travellers would enter by horse-drawn stagecoaches, changing animals halfway through. Modern-day horses can traverse the Chunnel in air-conditioned carriages – handy for the World Equestrian Games in Normandy this summer – though not everyone uses the service for show-jumping.
3. Electricity and internet cables
Eurotunnel aims to offer 4G mobile internet from this summer, once Vodafone and EE
rig up the tunnel with mobile radios and cables. Plans to send electricity cables through to France are further away, with the Eleclink joint venture
between Eurotunnel and Star Capital Partners snarled up in regulatory disputes until recently. Work is due to start later this year.
The Daily Mail even partnered with a charity
to support a walk through the Chunnel in 1994, before it opened for train travel.