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On its 20th birthday, Channel Tunnel emerges from the dark

Published on May 4, 2014 1:07 PM
 

PARIS (AFP) - Twenty years ago, Queen Elizabeth II and President Francois Mitterrand braved the drizzle to cut the inaugural ribbon of the Channel Tunnel, realising a centuries-old dream of linking France and Britain under the sea.

A prodigious industrial adventure, the project mobilised 12,000 engineers, technicians and workers to create the world's longest underwater tunnel over nearly 38 kilometres from northern France to southern England, earning it the "Global Engineering of the Century Award" by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers.

But this tour de force, officially inaugurated by the Queen and Mr Mitterrand on May 6, 1994, was overshadowed for years by financial problems that almost tore apart Eurotunnel, the company contracted to manage and operate the tunnel until 2086.

At the end of 1987, before work on the tunnel kicked off, hundreds of thousands of eager, small shareholders bought Eurotunnel shares in the belief that these were solid, safe investments.

 
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