Fire-hit Channel Tunnel to re-open in February

Last updated at 10:07 20 January 2009

Eurostar comes through the Channel Tunnel

Open for business: normal service is set to resume in late February

The section of the Channel Tunnel hit by a fire in September will be reopened in three weeks, tunnel operator Eurotunnel said today.

The part of the tunnel known as "interval six" will reopen on the night of February 9-10, the company said.

High speed passenger service Eurostar said that from February 23 it would return to normal timetable with all services operating at full speed.

Eurotunnel said the work was being completed three and a half months after reconstruction began and significantly ahead of initial forecasts.

From February 10, the number of departures for truck shuttles would be able to increase to six per hour in each direction, a spokesman said. Jacques Gounon, Eurotunnel chairman, said: "I congratulate all those involved.

"This performance means we can restore the speed and ease of Channel crossings that make Eurotunnel a unique product."

A Eurostar spokesman said that between February 10 and 22, Eurostar would continue to operate its existing departure times, with some trains likely to arrive earlier than currently timetabled.


From February 23, it would return to a normal timetable with all services operating at full speed, and fastest non-stop journey times of London - Paris 2 hours 15 minutes, London - Brussels 1 hour 51 and London - Lille 1 hour 20. There will be more trains, with up to 19 services per day on the London - Paris route and up to 10 on the London - Brussels route.

In addition, a new direct Ashford - Brussels service will begin on February 23, having been delayed since last December by the tunnel incident.

Richard Brown, chief executive, Eurostar, said: "We're delighted that Eurostar is returning to its normal high-speed journey times, with the centres of both Paris and Brussels broadly just two hours from London.

"This is great news for our travellers, speeding up business trips and making leisure breaks to the Continent even more attractive.

"Shorter journey times will also encourage a further switch from plane to train in our fast-growing markets in the Midlands and north of England."

In the fire on September 11, 32 people were led to safety after a lorry on board a shuttle train caught alight about seven miles from Calais.

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