The Channel Tunnel Story

The Channel Tunnel Story

The Channel Tunnel Story

The Channel Tunnel Story


The Channel Tunnel is a huge construction project, employing over 14,000 people at peak, and costing over <156>11 billion of private money. It has succeeded in spite of great financial, political and techncial difficulties, and a fundamentally flawed contract. This book tells the story of the project, based on the coverage in Construction Newsand with commentary taken from recent interviews with key project sources.


We have written The Channel Tunnel Story from two distinct perspectives. We make no apology for this, but it does merit a little explanation.

Firstly, we wanted to stress that this was a construction project. This may seem an obvious statement, but with so much of the media coverage focused on the financial and legal aspects of the scheme, we felt there was a danger that the huge achievements of the construction workers-10 of whom were killed on the project-would be forgotten.

Of course the financial difficulties and contractual rows form a major part of the book. But in a small way we tried to redress the balance back towards the construction process hence why the three interviews contained in the book are all with people from contractor Transmanche Link-former chief executive Jack Lemley, uk tunnelling director John King, and tunnel miner Graham Fagg.

Secondly, the book is written from a British perspective. This is partly because we have been covering the project for the best part of the last decade from Britain. But it also reflects that the Channel Tunnel was a far more controversial project in Britain than in France. the political opposition was stronger, the interest was greater-indeed in some strange way the tunnel seemed to threaten a change in Britain's whole national identity.

In France, things were far less heated. Indeed, there were rumours that an opinion poll in the South of France revealed a significant minority of those questioned who thought there already was a Channel Tunnel!

If there were differences in attitude, in another way the project was a revelation. Despite the stresses and strains, rarely did those working on it divide on nationalistic lines. Contractor and client may have been at each other's throats. British and French rarely were-except when Peter Costain mentioned the rugby.

Perhaps this was a small sign that progress towards a more united Europe is moving faster than any of us realise.

The help we received in writing and researching the book was considerable, and gratefully received. We would like to thank, in particular, Construction News for giving us the opportunity to cover the project and allowing us to ransack its back issues and files; Construction News editor

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