PN 005-12 2012-07-26

Eurotunnel: over 52,000 passengers every hour

On July 29, 1987, the signing of a contract between Margaret Thatcher and Francois Mitterand marked the starting point for the construction of the world's longest underwater tunnel. Exactly one quarter of a century later, it will be transporting more visitors this summer than ever before.

With three tubes, it crosses the 38-kilometer English Channel and reaches its lowest point at 75 meters below the ocean floor. For more than seven years, over 13,000 individuals worked on the Eurotunnel, which was simultaneously driven by both France and England. A tunnel boring machine (TBM) specially designed for this project – and, at the time of construction, the world's largest – was used, in addition to ten other TBMs. They drilled through rock with a diameter of nearly nine meters. As a systems partner, Rexroth configured and supplied the hydraulic equipment and transmission units for the machine. On the English side, the building contractors used the excavated material of nearly four million cubic meters of chalkstone to add some 36 hectares of land to the Shakespeare Cliff near Folkestone. The 250-meter, 1,200-ton TBM steadily drilled through the ocean floor for over 1,000 days until the breakthrough to the French tunnel took place on December 1, 1990.


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