The Channel Tunnel has made it easier to follow Gareth Southgate’s England in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Many fans are planning to travel independently and combining a trip to the FIFA World Cup in Russia as a family touring holiday in their cars and with their campers and caravans.
EuroTunnel to the FIFA World Cup
England’s first game is in Volgograd – once you have crossed the Channel Tunnel that’s a 2,300 mile trek which should take around 40 hours (longer if you are towing a caravan).
There Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and the Three Lions FIFA World Cup team take on Tunisia before facing Panama and Belgium.
It’s 30 years since work started on the Channel Tunnel – also known as Eurotunnel or the Chunnel – the multi billion pound scheme to provide a rail link between Folkestone in Kent and Coquelles, near Calais in France.
It was opened six years later and heralded a fast and cheap way for motorists to take their cars to the continent on board Le Shuttle, avoiding the slow and cumbersome alternative, the booze cruise or cross Channel ferry.
Foot passengers can also make the journey in five star luxury on board Eurostar which leaves from St Pancras International railway station in the heart of London. FIFA World Cup – here we come.
Here are 30 things you probably didn’t know about EuroTunnel:
1 The Channel Tunnel is 31 and a third miles long, at its lowest point it is 75m (250ft) below the sea bed and 115m (380ft) below sea level.
2 The tunnel has the longest undersea run of any tunnel in the world (23.5 miles).
3 Eleven tunnel boring machines were used to dig the Channel Tunnel, each was 750 feet long and weighed more than 15,000 tons. They could cut through the chalk at a rate of about 15 feet per hour.
4 High speed trains travel at up to 99 miles an hour through the tunnel meaning the crossing can be made in around 25 minutes – compared to a Channel crossing of 1hr 30min on services operated by P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways (weather permitting).
5 It was opened in 1994 but the Chunnel was first mooted almost 200 years earlier. The Government, however, feared any undersea link between England and its oldest adversary could compromise national security.
6 It was initially thought horse drawn vehicles would use the tunnel, but that plan would have meant an artificial island being constructed in the middle of the Channel to allow for horses to be swapped, rested, fed and watered.
7 When construction started estimates suggested it would cost £5.5 billion making it the dearest construction project ever proposed. Surprise, surprise… it ran over budget finally costing £9 billion.
8 English and French Governments signed a deal to build the tunnel in 1973 but two years later the then Labour Government cancelled the project due to uncertainty about EEC membership (a thorny issue that has never gone away, as current Brexit negotiations attest).
9 At its peak 15,000 people were employed in the construction of Eurotunnel with daily expenditure running in excess of £3 million.
10 Ten workers, eight of them British, were killed during construction between 1987 and 1993.
11 Englishman Graham Fagg and Frenchman Phillippe Cozette broke through the service tunnel to meet and shake hands for the first time on December 1, 1990.
12 Eurotunnel was officially opened at a ceremony in Calais on May 6 1994 by Queen Elizabeth II and the French president, François Mitterrand. Afterwards they travelled back to Folkestone to hold a similar event there.
13 Eurotunnel has changed the way we travel. The journey from London to Paris on Eurostar takes just two hours 15 minutes. Brussels is even quicker – 1 hour 51 minutes.
14 The American Society of Civil Engineers named the tunnel one of the seven modern Wonders of the World in 1995.
15 Almost four million cubic metres of soil excavated from the tunnel was deposited at Lower Shakespeare Cliff near Folkestone reclaiming 74 acres of land and creating Samphire Hoe Country Park.
16 Euro Tunnel poses all sorts of security issues, in particular the threat of illegal immigrants gaining access to England. The largest attempted mass exodus was on July 28, 2015, when 1,500-2,000 migrants attempted to enter the tunnel terminal.
17 The Chunnel isn’t just one tunnel, it’s three. Two are used for trains, while the third is a service tunnel for maintenance and emergency.
18 More than 185 million people have travelled to the continent on Eurostar since it opened.
19 Former F1 racing champ John Surtees drove a Ginetta G50 EV electric sports car prototype through the service tunnel from England to France as part of a charity event in 2009.
20 To celebrate the Tour de France‘s transfer from its opening stages in Britain to France in July 2014, Chris Froome rode a bicycle through the service tunnel. Cycling at speeds of up to 40mph tt took less than an hour, faster than most cross-channel ferries.
21 Nowadays up to 400 trains pass through the tunnel each day, carrying an average of 50,000 passengers, 6,000 cars, 180 coaches and 54,000 tonnes of freight.
22 A record 21 million passengers crossed between Britain and France in 2014 – up from 7.3 million in 1995, its first full year in operation.
23 With the threat of rabies declining a pet travel scheme was introduced in 2000 and since then more than one million dogs and cats have made the journey.
24 Shuttle trains are 775 metres long – about the same length as eight football pitches.
25 Fares are charged per car so the more people that travel the cheaper it gets. Single passage starts around £80 but you can get a return, depending on day and time of travel, from as little as £25 each way. Motorcycle fares start at £12.
26 The Olympic Torch was carried through the Channel tunnel on its way to the London Olympic games in 2012.
27 More than 80 million vehicles have travelled through the tunnel since it was opened.
28 The most expensive car to travel through the Eurochannel is a LaFerrari, a limited production hybrid sports car built by Ferrari. In 2016 a LaFerrari was auctioned for £5,743,500 making it “the most valuable 21st century automobile ever sold at auction”.
29 Unusual shuttle loads carried through the tunnel include a shoal of sharks, Little Richard’s stretch limo, a helicopter and a convoy of 50 of London’s iconic black cabs.
30 And, finally, the Channel Tunnel cost enough money to make San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in America 700 times.
If you are taking your car over to follow the Three Lions in the FIFA World Cup in Russia, be sure to organise Green Card insurance cover with HIC.
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