Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Phil Hopkins
Group Travel Editor & Theatre Correspondent
1:00 AM 18th May 2024

30 Years of LeShuttle – 30 Fascinating Facts

As LeShuttle (formerly Eurotunnel Le Shuttle) marks its 30th anniversary, we've taken a quick look back at the popular shuttle service that transports vehicles and passengers under the Channel from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes.

These days the tunnel used by LeShuttle is officially called the Channel Tunnel, and was also known as the Chunnel or Eurotunnel, until its rebrand last year.

Both LeShuttle and the Channel Tunnel are owned and operated by a company called Getlink - Eurostar passenger trains also run through the Channel Tunnel.

Here are 30 fascinating facts about this remarkable feat of engineering; highlighting its significance, innovation and impact on both sides of the Channel:

1.The Channel Tunnel is 32 miles long between the two terminals in Folkestone and Calais, and the undersea section is 25 miles long, making it the longest undersea tunnel in the world.
2.Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made history as the first passenger aboard LeShuttle on May 6, 1994, marking a momentous occasion in British and European transportation.
3.Over 100 million vehicles, and nearly 500 million people, have boarded LeShuttle since its inception.
4.If you parked all nine LeShuttle passenger shuttles end to end they would stretch over four miles!
5.LeShuttle has transported over 3.5m pets since 2000, an average of 156k a year! They have also transported all kinds of weird and wonderful animals - red pandas, jellyfish, sloths, orangutans, pythons, bears, wolves and even snow leopards.
6.Samphire Hoe Country Park owes its existence to the Channel Tunnel, as 4.9 million cubic metres of chalk excavated during construction enlarged the British Isles by 90 acres.
7.Contrary to popular belief, the Channel Tunnel comprises not one, but three tunnels. Two carry LeShuttle passenger vehicles and freight, as well as Eurostar services, while a smaller service tunnel lies in between.
8.In 2014, Tour de France champion Chris Froome blazed a trail by becoming the first cyclist to pedal through the Channel Tunnel, completing the 31-mile journey in a remarkable 55 minutes.
9.BBC One’s Children in Need Rickshaw Challenge took on the tunnel in 2018, spending over 8 hours traversing its length, raising funds and awareness for a noble cause.
10.The iconic Channel Tunnel served as a captivating backdrop for the Anglo-French crime drama series 'The Tunnel,' filmed for Sky Atlantic.
11.Since its inauguration, the Channel Tunnel has welcomed the equivalent of six times the population of the UK.
12.A staggering one million e-commerce express delivery parcels embark on LeShuttle daily, highlighting its pivotal role in modern trade and logistics.
13.A LeShuttle passenger train measures nearly 800m, equivalent to seven football pitches, showcasing the sheer scale of this engineering marvel.
14.Joining illustrious landmarks such as the Empire State Building and the Panama Canal, the Channel Tunnel rightfully earns its place as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
15.The Channel Tunnel reconnects Great Britain with the European mainland by land for the first time since the Ice Age, over 8,000 years ago.
16.2,225,000 passenger vehicles were transported in 2023 (up 6% on 2022).
17.The busiest day of 2023 was March 31st on which 7,858 passenger vehicles were transported on LeShuttle from Folkestone to Calais.
18.LeShuttle emits 73 times less CO2 compared to ferry travel, making it a greener alternative for eco-conscious travellers and businesses.
19.25% of the trade between the UK and the EU comes through the Channel Tunnel on LeShuttle.
20.Two million passenger vehicles use LeShuttle each year on average.
21.Over 480 million passengers have embarked on the Channel Tunnel journey over three decades.
22.The Channel Tunnel is built underneath the sea bed, and is 75m below sea level at its deepest point.
23.A train or shuttle navigates the tunnel every four minutes during peak hours, ensuring smooth and efficient transit for passengers and freight alike.
24.Eleven tunnel boring machines, 450 km of pipe work, and seven years of intensive work laid the foundation for this monumental undertaking.
25.The construction of the Channel Tunnel required 720,000 concrete segments.
26.13,000 engineers, technicians and workers contributed towards building the tunnels.
27.Over the years, LeShuttle's passenger side has travelled an astounding 54,000,000km, equivalent to circumnavigating the globe 1,350 times.
28.LeShuttle offers the quickest route to Europe, with a start-to-finish journey time of just 35 minutes.
29.LeShuttle travels at nearly 87 mph.
30.The 11 boring machines that dug the Channel Tunnel weighed 12,000 tonnes in total - heavier than the Eiffel Tower! One was too big to be removed from the tunnel itself so it simply made a left turn and was buried under the sea.

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