In 1802, French mining engineer Albert Mathieu-Favier put forward the first ever design for a cross-Channel fixed link based on the principle of a bored two-level tunnel: the top one, paved and lit by oil lamps, to be used by horse-drawn stagecoaches; the bottom one would be used for groundwater flows.
In 1803, the Englishman Henry Mottray unveils another project for a cross-Channel fixed link: a submerged tunnel made of prefabricated iron sections.
From 1830, the advent of steam trains and the construction of the rail network in Britain led to the first proposals for a rail tunnel. By the mid-19th century, French mining engineer, Aimé Thomé de Gamond, spent 30 years working on seven different designs.
During the state visit to France in Versailles, Queen Victoria and Napoléon III approve the proposed under sea tunnel designed by Thomé de Gamond, which was later on presented in the Exposition Universelle of Paris in 1867.
The first attempt of a tunnel excavation began in 1880 when the “Beaumont & English” tunnel boring machine began digging undersea on both sides of the Channel.
Louis Blériot was the first to fly an aeroplane across the Strait of Dover and in 37 minutes.
The Channel Tunnel Study Group presents to the governments a proposal of railway tunnel, bored of submerged, comprising a twin rail tunnel with a service tunnel.
The project of the construction and the operations of a railway tunnel under the Channel is finally launched in 1973 at Chequers by Edward Heath, British Prime Minister, and Georges Pompidou, French President, when a Franco-British Channel Tunnel Treaty was signed.
Harold Wilson, British Minister, announced that the project is stopped and withdrawn for financial reasons and in particular due to the oil crisis.
The British and French Governments reached an agreement on a consultation process with private promoters for the construction and operation of a cross-Channel fixed link, without public funding.
Following the invitation to submit schemes issued by the British and French governments on 2 April, four proposals corresponding to the specifications are received for consideration by the Franco-British assessment Committee.
The Eurotunnel project
A proposal based on the 1972-1975 scheme: 2 one-way rail tunnels for Shuttle trains (carrying cars and trucks) and high-speed trains, with a third service tunnel connected at regular intervals to the main tunnels.
The 3 other proposals include the following projects: Eurobridge (a suspension bridge – see opposite), Euroroute (a set of artificial islands, bridges and a tunnel) and Channel Expressway (rail and road tunnels).
Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand announced in Lille that the Eurotunnel bid presented by a Franco-British Consortium « France Manche-Channel Tunnel Group » has been selected.
In the Canterbury Cathedral and in the presence of the British Prime Minister and the French President, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of both countries signed the Franco-British Treaty of Canterbury, which prepared the Concession for the construction and operation of a cross-Channel Fixed Link by private companies. This Treaty set up the Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) responsible for monitoring all matters associated with the construction and operation of the Tunnel on behalf of both governments, together with a Safety Authority to advise the IGC.
The Concession Agreement for the construction, the financing and operation of the Channel Tunnel was awarded to the Franco-British Consortium « France- Manche SA / The Channel Tunnel Group Ltd» for a period of 55 years.
Launch of the Eurotunnel logo, representing the holding company comprising the Concessionaires « France-Manche » and « The Channel Tunnel Group Limited ».
Formation of the Eurotunnel group’s companies and signature of the construction contract between Eurotunnel and TransManche Link (TML).
In Paris, Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand ratified the Treaty of Canterbury, paving the way for the Channel Tunnel to become a reality.
Boring of the service tunnel starts on the UK side.
At 12:12 pm CET, British and French teams achieved the first historic breakthrough under the Channel, in the service tunnel at 22.3 km from the UK and 15.6 from France.
At 12 pm CET, breakthrough in the north rail tunnel.
At 12:50 pm CET, breakthrough in the south rail tunnel.
System handed over to Eurotunnel by TML.
Official opening by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand.
First international freight train in commercial service through the Channel Tunnel.
Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Truck Shuttle service.
Start of the commercial Eurostar service through the Channel Tunnel.
Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttle service for cars.
Opening ceremony of the commercial Centre Cité-Europe, next to the Coquelles Terminal.
Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Shuttle service for coaches.
Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Shuttle service for motorcycles.
Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Shuttle service for camper vans and caravans.
Opening to the public of Samphire Hoe, a nature reserve created by Eurotunnel ay the foot of Shakespeare Cliff (between Folkestone and Dover) during the construction of the Tunnel.
Official agreement from governments to extend the Concession to 2086, consequence of the first financial restructuring.
Opening ceremony of the F46 building, the longest railway workshop in the world, on the Coquelles Terminal (828 m).
Commercial launch of the first new Arbel Truck Shuttle.
Eurotunnel is named Top Construction Achievement of the 20th century for the Channel Tunnel.
End of duty free within the European Union.
Eurotunnel presents a road tunnel project to the two governments, as required by the Concession Agreement.
Opening of the first section of the high-speed rail link in the United Kingdom.
Eurotunnel is the first private company to be granted a rail operator’s licence valid across Europe, following the liberalisation of rail freight.
A group of shareholders renewed the entire Board of directors during the General Meeting.
Incorporation of the Groupe Eurotunnel SA, a French public limited company (Société Anonyme), holding company of the group and registered at the Paris Trade and Companies registry on 3 August 2005.
Conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding, a framework agreement outlining the proposed financial restructuring.
A binding preliminary restructuring agreement on the financial restructuring is signed.
Filing a safeguard procedure to place the company under the protection of the Paris Commercial court.
Eurotunnel carries out its first carbon footprint, which highlights its commitment to protecting the environment.
The Paris Commercial court approves the Safeguard Plan put forward by Eurotunnel, which sets out to reduce the debt by half, from 9.2 to €4bn.
Implementation of the financial restructuring and settlement of the Groupe Eurotunnel SA Exchange Tender Offer on Eurotunnel SA and Eurotunnel PLC, which will be renamed TNU SA and TNU PLC.
The Tour de France teams travel through the Channel Tunnel.
Commercial opening of High Speed 1 and inauguration by the Queen of St Pancras International, the new station for Eurostar trains in London.
Europorte 2, the rail freight subsidiary of Eurotunnel, takes over the ground operations at Frethun (Pas-de-Calais) for all cross-Channel rail freight traffic and traction of goods trains between Dollands Moor (Kent) and Frethun via the Tunnel.
Eurotunnel received the prize for the "Best Financial Operation" of the year 2007 from the Club des Trente which is composed of the chief executives and financial directors of the largest French companies.
Truck parking capacity doubled in Coquelles in order to reinforce the quality of the Eurotunnel Truck Shuttle service.
In interval 6 of the North Tunnel, a fire broke out on a truck carried on board a Eurotunnel Shuttle.
At InnoTrans 2008, the International Trade fair for railway technology, Eurotunnel received the Mobility Award for its performance in changing a large cross-over points system in just 25 hours in the Tunnel.
Eurotunnel is certified by the Carbon Trust Standard for its environmental policy, its efforts to manage and reduce its carbon footprint.
Acquisition by Groupe Eurotunnel of 4 subsidiaries of Veolia Cargo in France, specialised in rail freight and logistics services. Creation of the Europorte entity including Europorte France, Europorte Proximité, Europorte Channel (ex Europorte 2) and Socorail subsidiaries.
Inauguration of the Coquelles wind farm, comprising 3 turbines of 2.4MW total capacity, which confirms Eurotunnel’s commitment to renewable energies.
Acquisition by Groupe Eurotunnel of GB Railfreight, 3rd largest rail freight operator in the UK, completing the Europorte entity.
Subsidiary of the Eurotunnel group, Europorte Services takes charge, as contracted infrastructure manager (a first in France), of the operation and maintenance of the rail network at the port of Dunkirk.
Groupe Eurotunnel establishes with Star Capital Partners ElecLink, a joint venture to develop a 500MW electricity interconnection between Great Britain and France, through the service tunnel.
Groupe Eurotunnel as a global organisation is certified by the independent British agency Carbon Trust Standard for its policy and achievements in carbon footprint reduction. Eurotunnel has reduced its carbon footprint by 44% between 2006 and 2008 and by a further 20% from 2009 to 2010, i.e. a cumulative reduction of 55% since 2006.
4 SAFE fire-fighting stations build in the middle of rail tunnels became operational. These stations, accessible within a few minutes by Shuttles, automatically disperse a mist of pressurised micro droplets onto the site of a hotspot which would have been detected. This system, which is unique in the world, contributes to protect the structure of the Channel Tunnel and to guarantee its availability.
Groupe Eurotunnel officially opened the International railway training Centre in Coquelles (CIFFCO), manifesting its desire to contribute to the creation of qualified staff, to play a driving role in developing the rail industry and to continue supporting the economic development of the Calais region.
The Channel Tunnel, outstanding engineering feat and symbol of the AngloFrench partnership, is recognised as one the 4 more important mile stones during the rein of the House of Windsor. It has been selected as one of the Royal Mail commemorative stamps set as part of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee (June 2012).
The Olympic Torch travels through the Channel Tunnel and visits the Eurotunnel nature reserve at Samphire Hoe on its relay route to the London Games.
First day of trading for GET share on NYSE Euronext London: Groupe Eurotunnel is the first company to be admitted on this market.
Successful launch of mobile telephone and internet services in the Channel Tunnel (south rail tunnel).
The Channel Tunnel wins the Global engineering century award as the most significant major building project in the last 100 years, a prize given by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC).
Broadcast of the Anglo-French detective series "The Tunnel" by Sky Atlantic and Canal+ in which the Channel Tunnel, the Shuttles and the maintenance workshops are at the centre of the plot.
20 years after its official opening, the Channel Tunnel, which is part of the national and world heritage, is symbolically on display panels installed close by on the A16 motorway in France.
Eurotunnel celebrates 20 years of operating success for the Channel Tunnel with many various events organized throughout the year.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Channel Tunnel and the launch of international high-speed rail services between the UK and mainland Europe, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II unveils a plaque at St Pancras International before attending the 70th anniversary commemorations of the Normandy Landings.
Thanks to a collaboration between Eurotunnel, Team Sky et Jaguar, Chris Froome, winner of the Tour de France, cycled across the Channel at an average speed of 55km/h through the service tunnel, 100 metres under the sea, the first time a cyclist has ever done this!
Listed on NYSE Euronext Paris and NYSE Euronext London, Eurotunnel Group is now included in the FTSE4Good index which measures and rewards the performance of companies with remarkable CSR initiatives.
Samphire Hoe, Eurotunnel's nature reserve in Kent, completed a new Education Shelter, built using environmentally-friendly construction criteria, in order to welcome the many school groups all year-round.
In cooperation with its telecommunications operator partners in France and in the UK, Eurotunnel is investing and innovating by introducing 4G mobile services in the Channel Tunnel, thus offering ultra high-speed mobile communications to all passengers travelling through the Tunnel.
As approved during the Combined General Meeting on the 29 April 2014, the Eurotunnel Group becomes a European company which legal framework is adapted to the Group’s binational features.
Visit to the Eurotunnel site in Coquelles of the French Interior Minister and the British Home Secretary Theresa May, in order to review the extend of the security measures achieved both by the Eurotunnel Group and the two governments since the first attempted intrusions by migrants..
16 Tesla superchargers and universal charging stations in total are made available on the terminals in Coquelles (30 June) and in Folkestone (8 October) to Eurotunnel’s customers for recharging their electric vehicles, a free complimentary service.
Inauguration of the new Terminal 2015 in Coquelles, which includes a new buffer zone for 150 trucks, two additional toll lanes and an increase in the number of lanes dedicated to trucks inspections: more security, more fluidity for our customers, hauliers and truck drivers.
Completion of the Terminal 2015 project with the inauguration of the new Freight Terminal for trucks in Folkestone: 5 new access lanes, a new check-in control building and 5 check-in booth plaza solely dedicated to trucks, enabling traffic flow fluidity on the adjacent road network and full separation of trucks and cars flows at the UK site.
Broadcast of the 2nd season of the Anglo-French series “The Tunnel” featuring the cross-Channel Fixed Link, on Sky Atlantic and Canal+.
Signing of a conditional agreement between the Eurotunnel Group and Star Capital Partners for the purchase by Groupe Eurotunnel of Star Capital’s 51% share of the joint venture ElecLink, the project of building a 1,000MW electrical interconnection between the United Kingdom and France via the Channel Tunnel.
Inauguration of the new Channel Tunnel track-to-train railway telecommunications network: GSM-R (Global System for Mobile Communications - Railways) represents considerable progress in terms of reliability and rail safety, and paves the way for ETCS, the European Train Control System.
Groupe Eurotunnel completed the sale of its British rail freight subsidiary, GB Railfreight, to EQT Infrastructure II.
Crossing of the first Chinese container train to complete a 12,000km journey between Yiwu (south of Shanghai) and Barking (east London) via the Silkd Road and the Channel Tunnel.
Inauguration of the new Security Control Centre in Coquelles, fitted with high-technology equipment allowing the management of 1,500 alarms coupled with 600 cameras of various types and their display on a 20m2 screen-wall. It enables the French and UK authorities and the Eurotunnel security teams to work together in one single location.
Start of the construction works for the ElecLink project, the 1,000MW electrical interconnector between the United Kingdom and France with the foundation stone laid in Folkestone by Jesse Norman, British Minister for Industry and Energy and Jacques Gounon.
Inauguration of the 1st of the three new third generation Truck Shuttles (WBN) in Coquelles which strengthen the existing fleet increased to 18 Truck Shuttles and 20% capacity.
Inauguration of the new Coquelles Flexiplus lounge, the premium service of Eurotunnel Le Shuttle already used by more than a million customers since its opening in 2006. Unique in the transport world, it guarantees priority boarding on the next Shuttle departure in all circumstances.
Renewal of The Carbon Trust Standard certification within the scope of the cross-Channel Fixed Link Concession and its commitment to reduce its carbon footprint.
A new name for a new challenge: Groupe Eurotunnel becomes Getlink. Reflecting the dynamism of exchanges and links, Getlink marks the entry of the Group into a new era of mobility infrastructure.
Audi France has chosen Eurotunnel and its service tunnel to be the main springboard of its commercial video for the launch of the new A8, driven for the occasion by Lambert Wilson.
Concluding step in the Group’s debt optimisation.
Atlantia's entry into the capital of Getlink, following the purchase of the Aero I Global & International funds.
Start of the Eurostar direct service London-Amsterdam in 3 hours and 50 minutes, through the Channel Tunnel.
Publication of a new EY study on trade flows managed by Eurotunnel between the United Kingdom and Europe: €140Bn of goods transit through the Channel Tunnel each year.
Within the renewal of the partnership between Eurotunnel and the French engineering school, Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, for the Chair in "Railway Transport Science", a Cobra robot has been designed, developed and patented: it screens the track sleeper blocks and enables improved productivity and infrastructure availability.
Successful pricing of the first issue of Green Bonds by Getlink.
The new Jaguar all-electric I-Pace SUV completed the 400km between London and Brussels on a single charge, of which 50km through the service tunnel. A fully eco-responsible journey!
As part of the collaboration between Eurotunnel and Formula E, an electric racing car drove in the service tunnel for the launch of the 2019 championship season.
As part of Eurotunnel's preparation for the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, visit of Edouard Philippe, French Prime Minister, to the Coquelles terminal.
Eurotunnel introduced automatic face recognition e-gate technology.
Eurotunnel entrusted the mid-life renovation of its Passenger Shuttles to Bombardier Transportation.
Eurotunnel is ready for Brexit with, for Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Freight customers, the construction of 2 pit-stop for the control and scan of data on trucks and their loads, of a Customs-Sivep Centre for trucks needing additional checks, including veterinary and phytosanitary controls, of a green and orange route signage and for Le Shuttle passenger customers with the installation of 2 sets of biometric facial recognition e-gates and Pablo Kiosks to claim tax refund.
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Eurotunnel entrusted the street artist YZ with the creation of a monumental artwork featuring the face of a young girl looking through binoculars on the French entrance of the Tunnel and on the other side of the Channel, her eyes have been painted at the Sunny Sands Beach in Folkestone, as a symbol of the unyielding link between the United Kingdom and France.
Getlink and RATP groups are creating a joint-venture to respond to tenders that French regions will launch as part of the opening up of regional express trains (TER) to competition.
Three and a half years after the referendum in June 2016, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union: nothing changes for Eurotunnel and its customers. This withdrawal is followed by an 11-month transition period (until the end of 2020) during which the parties will negotiate new trade agreements and their future relationships.