The Eurotunnel Project

Construction period of the Channel Tunnel

Start of operations

Financial restructuring

Operational activity (next)


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.


25 August

During the state visit to France in Versailles, Queen Victoria and Napoléon III approve the proposed undersea 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.


25 July

Louis Blériot was the first to fly an aeroplane across the Strait of Dover and in 37 minutes.



Harold Macmillan, British Defence Minister, announced that he no longer opposed a fixed link on military ground.


26 July

Louis Armand formed the Channel Tunnel Study Group (GETM).



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.


17 November

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.


20 January

Harold Wilson, British Minister, announced that the project is stopped and withdrawn for financial reasons and in particular due to the oil crisis.


30 November

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.


2 April

The British and French governments issued an Invitation to submit schemes.


31 October

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 image), Euroroute (a set of artificial islands, bridges and a tunnel) and Channel Expressway (rail and road tunnels).


20 January

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.

12 February

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.

14 March

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.

19 May

Launch of the Eurotunnel logo, representing the holding company comprising the Concessionaires « France-Manche » and « The Channel Tunnel Group Limited ».

13 August

Formation of the Eurotunnel group’s companies and signature of the construction contract between Eurotunnel and TransManche Link (TML).


29 July

In Paris, Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand ratified the Treaty of Canterbury, paving the way for the Channel Tunnel to become a reality.


15 December

Boring of the service tunnel starts on the UK side.


28 February

Start of the service tunnel boring on the French side.


1st December at 12:12 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.


22 May at 12:00 CET

Breakthrough in the North rail tunnel.

28 June at 12:50 CET

Breakthrough in the South rail tunnel.


10 December

System handed over to Eurotunnel by TML.


January to April

Equipment installation, completion work and testing on the whole Concession (tunnels, terminals, etc).


6 May

Official opening by Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand.

1st June

First international freight train in commercial service through the Channel Tunnel.

25 July

Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Truck Shuttle service.

14 November

Start of the commercial Eurostar service through the Channel Tunnel.

22 December

Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttle service for cars.


21 March

Opening ceremony of the commercial centre Cité-Europe, next to the Coquelles Terminal.

26 June

Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Shuttle service for coaches.

31 August

Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Shuttle service for motorcycles.

29 September

Start of the commercial Eurotunnel Shuttle service for camper vans and caravans.


17 July

Opening to the public of Samphire Hoe, a nature reserve created by Eurotunnel at the foot of Shakespeare Cliff (Between Folkestone and Dover) during the construction of the Tunnel.

19 December

Official agreement from governments to extend the Concession to 2086, consequence of the first financial restructuring.


15 June

Opening ceremony of the F46 building, the longest railway workshop in the world, on the Coquelles Terminal (828 m).


11 January

Commercial launch of the first new Arbel Truck Shuttle.

23 March

Eurotunnel is named Top Construction Achievement of the 20th century for the Channel Tunnel.

1st July

End of duty free within the European Union.

30 December

Eurotunnel presents a road tunnel project to the two governments, as required by the Concession Agreement.


28 February

Start of the Pet Travel Scheme for cats and dogs.


21 October

New platforms and tracks are put into service on the Folkestone and Coquelles Terminals, to increase capacity for the Truck Shuttle service.


Implementation of a registration plate recognition system at the Truck Shuttle check-ins, in order to improve the truck tracking system on sites already in place since 1999.


28 September

Opening of the first section of the high speed rail link in the UK.


13 February

Eurotunnel is the first private company to be granted a rail operator’s licence valid across Europe, following the liberalisation of rail freight.

7 April

A group of shareholders renewed the entire Board of directors during the General Meeting.


3 January

Launch of a new commercial and operation strategy, in particular for the Truck Shuttle service.

12 December

Implementation of 24 automatic check-in lanes for the Passenger Shuttle service on the Folkestone and Coquelles Terminals, in order to increase traffic flow and to speed up loading operations onto the Shuttles.


6 July

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.


31 January

Conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding, a framework agreement outlining the proposed financial restructuring.

24 May

A binding preliminary restructuring agreement on the financial restructuring is signed.

12 July

Filing a safeguard procedure to place the company under the protection of the Paris Commercial court.


15 January

The Paris Commercial court approves the Safeguard Plan put forward by Eurotunnel, which sets out to reduce the debt by half, from 9.2 down to €4bn.

28 June

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.


19 April

Opening of automatic check-in lanes on Eurotunnel freight Terminals, which allowed a reduction in transit time for trucks.

27 June

Transport of the 100 millionth customer on Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttle.


Eurotunnel carries out its first carbon footprint, which highlights its commitment to protecting the environment.


8 July

The Tour de France teams travel through the Channel Tunnel.


The power supply for the catenary (25,000 Volts) can now use only French electricity, which allows to reduce operating costs and to further improve the company’s carbon footprint.

23 October

Implementation of a new simplified pricing system and reform of the access conditions to the Tunnel, to boost rail freight.

14 November

Commercial opening of High Speed 1 and inauguration, by the Queen,of St Pancras International, the new station for Eurostar trains in London.

26 November

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.


11 September

In interval 6 of the North Tunnel, a fire broke out on a truck carried on board a Eurotunnel Shuttle.


9 February

End of renovation work and reopening of interval 6 to commercial operations, following the end 2008 fire.

14 May

Eurotunnel is certified by the Carbon Trust Standard for its environmental policy, its efforts to manage and reduce its carbon footprint.


Implementation of the IRIS system using automated registration plate recognition, in order to further improve traffic flow and speed up the Passenger Shuttles loading process.

30 November

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.

16 December

50 million vehicles have crossed the Channel on board Eurotunnel Shuttles since 1994.


27 January

Crossing of the 15 millionth truck on board one of the Eurotunnel Truck Shuttles.

10 February

Inclusion of Groupe Eurotunnel SA share in the MSCI Global Standard and MSCI Growth indices.

1st March

500,000 dogs and cats have crossed the Channel on board Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttles, since 2000.

20 April

Inauguration of the Coquelles wind farm, comprising 3 turbines of 2.4MW total capacity, which confirms Eurotunnel’s commitment to renewable energies.

27 April

Opening of a new commercial service for domestic equidae on board Eurotunnel Passenger Shuttles.

28 May

Acquisition by Groupe Eurotunnel of GB Railfreight, 3rd largest rail freight operator in the UK, completing the Europorte entity.

21 June

Inclusion of Groupe Eurotunnel SA share in the « CAC Next 20 » indice.

21 July

250 million people have already travelled through the Channel Tunnel, a landmark figure and proof of the commercial and operational success of the Fixed Link between the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

From 12 to 19 October

Crossing of an ICE 3 high-speed train from Deutsche Bahn in the Channel Tunnel and success of the technical and evacuation tests prior to the opening of regular services by the German operator via the Tunnel.

14 December

Groupe Eurotunnel is the first cross-Channel operator to launch on its website a carbon counter which enables its Truck Shuttle customers to measure the environmental impact and to compare greenhouse gas emissions for the different means of cross-Channel transport available.

21 December

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.


1st January

The majority of the Truck Shuttles expand to 32 carrying wagons (instead of 30 previously), which leads to an increase in transport capacity at a virtually unchanged operating cost.

10 May

Railenium, the future European Institute for Technological research in rail Infrastructure based near Valenciennes (Northern France), of which Eurotunnel is a founding member of the consortium, is allocated funds by the French government as an « investment programme for the future ».

26 May

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.

12 July

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.

16 September

Groupe Eurotunnel is listed on the FTSE All-World and FTSE Medium Cap indices, in recognition of the company's performance and its ability to meet the highest standards in the financial sector.

13 November

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.


2 February

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.

3 February

The Channel Tunnel, outstanding engineering feat and symbol of the Anglo-French 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).

21 March

First crossing in the Channel Tunnel of a high-speed freight Euro Carex train which connected Lyon airport to London, via Paris-Roissy airport, demonstrating the efficiency, speed and environmental benefits of an intermodal transportation system combining air containers and high-speed rail network.

11 June

Groupe Eurotunnel becomes ship owner via its EuroTransmanche subsidiary who leases 3 ferries at market price to an independent operating company (My Ferry Link).

18 July

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.

19 July

First day of trading for GET share on NYSE Euronext London: Groupe Eurotunnel is the first company to be admitted on this market.

25 July

Successful launch of mobile telephone and internet services in the Channel Tunnel (south rail tunnel) with the French mobile telephone operators.

20 August

Start of commercial operations for MyFerryLink between the ports of Dover and Calais.

17 September

Official opening of the new Eurotunnel Passenger Terminal building in Folkestone, newly refurbished to the highest international airport standards and christened Victor Hugo Terminal to clearly identify it as the gateway to France.

18 October

Eurotunnel celebrates the 300th millionth person to travel through the Channel Tunnel since1994, the equivalent to almost 5 times the population of the United Kingdom.

6 November

Europorte and Ceravia (the agricultural cooperative) create a Local Railway Operator: Bourgogne Fret Services.

15 November

Europorte has won the tender process launched by the Grand port Maritime of La Rochelle to take over the management, operation and maintenance of its railway network.



Ninth Passenger Shuttle brought back into commercial service.

10 June

Long- term partnership signed between Eurotunnel Group and the Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, a top French engineering school: creation of a special science chair for railway transport.

11 September

1,100 visitors discovered the behind the scenes of the Channel Tunnel during the European Heritage Days and in particular for the first time, the Eurotunnel terminal and the railway Control Centre (RCC) in Folkestone.

18 September

The Channel Tunnel wins the Global engineering century award as the most significant majord building project in the last 100 years, a prize given by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC).

28 October

"Best CSR policy for a major group" award received at the first "Nuit de l'Entreprise Responsable et Solidaire" in recognition of all the initiatives undertaken in terms of sustainable development.


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.


25 March

Crossing of the 20 millionth truck on board one of the Eurotunnel Truck Shuttle between Coquelles and Folkestone.

4 April

The Eurotunnel Group, listed in compartment A of the NYSE Euronext, confirms its eligibility for the PEA-PME approach for ETI quoted on Euronext.

6 May

Eurotunnel celebrates 20 years of operating success for the Channel Tunnel with many various events organised throughout the year.

5 June

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!

7 July

The Terminal 2015 project is launched when the first stone is laid on the Eurotunnel truck terminal in Coquelles. Eurotunnel is investing to provide new services and unbeatable frequency of departure for its ever increasing numbers of customers. This project will allow to increase capacity of the Truck Shuttle service and further improve the management of traffic flows to ensure speed, ease and competitive advantage.


Eurotunnel’s 4th participation in the European Heritage Days met a huge success : more than 1,200 visitors gathered in Folkestone on 13 September and in Coquelles on 20 September to find out more about the behind-the-scenes activities of the cross-Channel Fixed Link, rail operations know-how and the expertise of the teams that manage the Tunnel every day.

24 November

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.

12 December

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.

26 December

As approved during the Combined General Meeting on the 29 April 2014, the Eurotunnel Group becomes a European company which its legal framework is adaptated to the Group’s binational features.


13 January

Order for 3 new Truck Shuttles to enable Eurotunnel to transport 2 million trucks per year by 2020. With the new fleet of Shuttles, Eurotunnel will increase its capacity by 20% and be able to run up to 8 Truck Shuttles departures per hour in each direction at peak times, instead of 6 today.

1st April

Start of operations for the traction of the Caledonian Sleeper, the fast overnight train between London and Scotland by GB Railfreight (the UK rail freight subsidiary of the Group), as part of the 15-year contract with Serco.

28 May

Participation of the Group in the “Jeunes d’Avenir” (Young people of the Future) exhibition in Lille to showcase different jobs available in the railway sector to over 6,000 young people seeking employment or training, which further enhance the Group’s commitment to develop employability.

15 June

Eurotunnel and the Railway Networks (including Eurostar) sign a new agreement to implement the Railway Usage Contract (RUC) for a further 5 years (2015-2019), thus extending the contributions to the operating, maintenance and renewal costs of the Fixed Link railway infrastructure. The RUC sets out the conditions for access to the railway network and in particular the pricing framework.

20 August

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.

31 August

Visit to the Coquelles Terminal of the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, confirming the full support of the French and British governments towards security and the vital importance of the Fixed Link in terms of international cooperation.


Europorte, the UK rail freight subsidiary of Eurotunnel Group, celebrates 10-year of partnership with Lhoist company: traction of freight trains to deliver lime to the steel furnaces in Saarland (Germany).


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.

20 October

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.

1st December

Celebrations marking the 25th anniversary since the junction the service tunnel under the Channel while the Eurotunnel Group joins the “Low Carbon 100 Europe” index, measuring the performance of the 100 largest European companies emitting the lowest levels of greenhouse gas emissions.


11 January

Opening of the first Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) “On the right track to employment”, a free CIFFCO online training dedicated to rail business: discovery of the daily life of train drivers and ground staff through a “serious game” interface, videos, quizzes, 3D locomotive driving simulations… A great success with more than 5,000 people registered, 1,000 training attestations and 800 certificates of achievement delivered to participants.

12 February

Completion of the Terminal 2015 project with the inauguration of the new Freight Terminal for trucks in Folkestone: 5 new access lanes, a new checkin 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+.

20 May

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.

29 September

nauguration 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.

14 November

Publishing by Ernst & Young of a report entitled "Economic footprint of the Channel Tunnel Fixed Link" which assesses the economic contribution of the Channel Tunnel to trade and tourism, and its role in the UK’s economic growth. According to EY, the Channel Tunnel facilitates trade worth £91.4bn per year, representing a quarter of all UK trade in goods with the European Union.

15 November

Groupe Eurotunnel completed the sale of its British rail freight subsidiary, GB Railfreight, to EQT Infrastructure II.


18 January

Inauguration of the new Security Control Centre in Coquelles, fitted with hightechnology 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.

23 February

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.

17 March

25 million trucks transported since the opening of the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Freight service on 25 July 1994. With a 20-30% growth in e-commerce per year, around one million packages are transported by express and courier services through the Tunnel every year.

28 April

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..

18 May

2 million pets have already travelled onboard Le Shuttle, since the opening of the Pet Travel Scheme in February 2000.

29 June

Laying of the foundation stone of the new freight train scanner at Fréthun, the 1st of its kind in France. This X ray will enable the control of up to 30 freight trains of 750-metre long at a speed of 20 km/h without stopping.

12 July

Inauguration of the new 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.

26 October

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.

20 November

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..


25 January

New historic daily traffic record for Le Shuttle Freight with 7,023 trucks transported in both directions.

7 February

Concluding step in the Group’s debt optimisation.

2 March

Atlantia's entry into the capital of Getlink, following the purchase of the Aero I Global & International funds.

4 April

Start of the Eurostar direct service London-Amsterdam in 3h40mn, through the Channel Tunnel.

3 July

Eurotunnel and the Ecole des Ponts ParisTech renew for five years the Chair on "Sciences for rail transport". This partnership aims to advance railway science by studying the activity as a whole, as well as the sustainability of the facilities and technologies implemented.


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