Safety

Safety is the utmost priority to Eurotunnel, a key requirement which has been taken into account since the Channel Tunnel was designed to make it one of the safest and most efficient transport structures in the world.

The Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) created by the Treaty of Canterbury on 14 March 1986, represents the 2 States (France and the UK) awarding the Concession for the cross-Channel Fixed Link until 2086. The IGC aims to facilitate Channel Tunnel operations and, in collaboration with the Safety Authority made up of independent experts, adopt all regulation required for the Concession to run smoothly, particularly in terms of safety.

Fire protection: innovation to ensure Tunnel integrity

Salamander plan

To prevent any fire risk, Eurotunnel has implemented the "Salamander" Plan, a three-point response system:

Control and inspections of trucks before loading on a Shuttle by a team of safety controllers.
Awareness of truck drivers on safety issues via the handing out of safety instruction leaflets produced in 9 languages.
Review of operating procedures for the first line of firefighting, outsourced by Eurotunnel to fire fighters in France and in the UK, to allow them to set up water curtains on each side of a train that is on fire inside the Tunnel in order to prevent the fire from spreading.

SAFE Stations: protect the infrastructure, guarantee its availability

The four SAFE fire-fighting Stations, deployed in 2011, contributes to guarantee maximum system availability in any eventuality and, above all, enhances the long-term sustainability of the cross-Channel Fixed Link.

In the event of a fire occurring on board a Truck Shuttle, once all risks have been eliminated for the passengers, the driver can either drive the train to a SAFE station to extinguish the fire, or drive it out of the Tunnel, outside where firefighting tracks are located near the two portal entrances.

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The 4 SAFE stations are located in the middle of the two rail tunnels, after the cross-overs, so that a train driver, once a fire has been detected, will be able to go directly
to one of them or out of the Tunnel.

The 4 stations are located in the middle of the two tunnels, just after the cross-overs. Each SAFE station, 870 metres long, can accommodate the longest trains. It is designed in 30-metre sections, each equipped with a heat detection system. Once the train has stopped, a water mist is immediately released in the section where the fire is detected. Full scale trials carried out in a test tunnel in Spain demonstrated the effectiveness of the process: temperatures remained well below 1,000°C, the level at which tunnel concrete begins to deteriorate. Those stations are preserving both the integrity of the infrastructure and the goods transported.

A patent has been filed for this unique system and makes the Channel Tunnel a worldwide reference in terms of safety. The Group is constantly monitoring innovation in fire detection and prevention systems.

+ info: SAFE stations video

Emergency service

Eurotunnel FLOR

The Fixed Link safety rules require a permanent specialist team to be present at each portal, ready to provide immediate assistance to passengers. The duties of the FLOR (First Line of Response) has been entrusted in the UK to the Kent Fire Brigade and in France to a team of around 50 agents from a specialised subcontractor. Both groups are specially trained in the Channel Tunnel environment and experienced in emergency response operations. The FLOR team now patrols the service tunnel 24 hours a day.

Bi-national safety exercise

In order to test emergency services response and their effective coordination in the event of an accident inside the Channel Tunnel, Eurotunnel and the public authorities organize each year a vast “full-scale” safety exercise called Binat (as in bi-national). This annual exercise enables testing of the safety of customers as well as the contingency plans, for emergency teams in the Tunnel.

First aid training and defibrillators

In order to ensure the safety of both customers and staff, 57 defibrillators are installed on board Passenger and Truck Shuttles, with four per Passenger Shuttle and one per Club Car (shuttle in which truck drivers travel during the crossing). As for the French and English terminals, they are equipped with 13 defibrillators. Eurotunnel ground staff and crew members are also first aid trained.

Safety of employees and subcontractors

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Prevention of occupational risks

Ensuring the safety of every person working on Eurotunnel's sites is a major issue, whatever the nature and type of collaboration: employees, temporary workers and sub-contractors. The safety management implemented at Eurotunnel is quite satisfactory, even if the objective of reducing the accidents rate at work as low as possible remains a top priority. For this purpose, Eurotunnel continues to set up new systems every year, as well as developing and strengthening safety training.

In 2017, lost-time accidents fell by more than 40%, demonstrating the effectiveness of the actions undertaken. The continuous availability of the first-line management, the deep commitment of the Executive Committee, and the strengthening of Safety teams within the operational departments help to make safety a permanent concern.

Collaborative approach to reducing arduous work

Big data model to prevent accidents

Eurotunnel is working on a big data project to help prevent work-related accidents. The experiment is based on the analysis of nearly one million basic data items over the past 6 years, from which algorithms are used to identify combinations of factors that may lead to work-related accidents. By identifying those situations and circumstances in which risk is increased, effective preventive actions can be taken.

To find out more details, please refer to the 2017 Annual review of the Group.