RAIL CHRONOLOGY : CHANNEL TUNNEL TRAIN SERVICES

Page last updated: 28 June 2014


For the various services through the tunnel, the elements of service commenced (and re-commenced following the fire of 18 November 1996) from the dates shown. Source notes shown with Roman numerals.

Eurotunnel refer to their two terminii as UK Terminal or Folkestone and Terminal France or Calais/Coquelles, respectively. Their original Le Shuttle branding was dropped in 1998.


General

  • first passenger train through tunnel with guests: 12 March 1993 i
  • Continental Junction, giving access to Dollands Moor yard and Channel Tunnel access lines, commissioned by BR, with new Ashford signal box: 31 May 1993
  • TML hand over to Eurotunnel, including special passenger trains - worked by Thameslink units 319008/9 - through tunnel: 10 December 1993 ii
  • ceremonial tunnel inauguration: 6 May 1994
  • fire in French end of south running tunnel: 18 November 1996 (ca.20h45)
  • repairs completed - south running tunnel reopened: 14 May 1997 iii
  • all normal services resumed: 15 June 1997

    Eurotunnel

  • unadvertised staff trains (leaving Folkestone at 0945, 1345 and 1945 and Coquelles at 0800, 1200 and 1800): 23 March to 5 May 1994 iv [this operation ceased with commencement of trial freight shuttles]

    Eurotunnel (Le Shuttle until 1998)
    HGV shuttles, carrying lorry drivers in rail passenger coach ("Club Car"):

  • trial continuous running: 9 May 1994 v
  • limited invitation service: 19 May 1994 vi
  • "Turn-up-and-go" public service, all day, not weekends: 25 July 1994 vii
  • "Turn-up-and-go" public service, all day, daily: 12 November 1994 viii
  • services ceased in consequence of fire: 18 November 1996
  • trial free service resumed: 28 May 1997 ix
  • full service resumed: 15 June 1997 x
    Passenger-vehicle shuttles, carrying passengers in their own vehicles:
  • trial continuous running (Marche a blanc - no passengers): 20 July 1994 xi
  • unadvertised demonstration service with employees as passengers: 15 August 1994 xii
  • "Overture service" with shareholders and other invited passengers, not weekends: 3 October 1994 xiii
  • "Inside Track" introductory reservations-only public service 0800 to 2000 only, hourly, daily: 22 December 1994 xiv
  • "Inside Track" introductory reservations-only public service all day, hourly (two-hourly 2300 to 0700): 2 January 1995 xv
  • "Turn-up-and-go" public service, all day, half-hourly: 3 April 1995 xvi
  • service for road coaches and mini-buses: 26 June 1995 xvii
  • summer service (three per hour, increased to four per hour in August): 10 July 1995 xviii
  • service for motorcycles: 31 August 1995 xix
  • service for caravans and camper vans: 30 September 1995 xx
  • services ceased in consequence of fire: 18 November 1996
  • services resumed (limited capacity until May 1997): 10 December 1996

    Railways' freight services (see note xxviii)

  • first revenue train (car traffic): 1 June 1994 xxi
  • first revenue inter-modal train: 13 June 1994 xxii
  • regular daily service: 27 June 1994 xxiii
  • services ceased in consequence of fire: 18 November 1996
  • services resumed: 21 November 1996
  • first trial revenue high-speed service by French postal TGV train: 21 March 2012 xxvii (this did not develop into regular operation)

    Railways' passenger services
    Eurostar (daytime services):

  • first Eurostar train hauled through tunnel: 20 June 1993 xxiv
  • unadvertised demonstration service with invited passengers, not weekends: 17 August 1994 xxv
  • "Discovery service" regular, limited, public service, London - Lille - Bruxelles / Paris, daily: 14 November 1994 xxvi
  • full regular public service: 28 May 1995
  • services ceased in consequence of fire: 18 November 1996
  • services resumed: 4 December 1996
    Regional Eurostar services to/from UK provinces: never started
    European Overnight Services: never started

    Notes and sources:
    i. Eurotunnel - An Illustrated Journey (Eurotunnel, 1994)
    ii. Eurotunnel - An Illustrated Journey (Eurotunnel, 1994); Branch Line News item 722.14; Railway & Canal Historical Society Railway Chronology Group Co-ordinating Newsletter no. 73, p. 6
    iii. Financial Times 12.5.97
    iv. Branch Line News items 727.68 and 731.8
    v. Branch Line News item 731.8
    vi. Eurotunnel Annual Report 1994, p.5 et seq.; Today's Railways no.2, p.4; Rail no.232, p.23
    vii. Eurotunnel Annual Report 1995, p.5 et seq.; Today's Railways no.3, pp.12/13; Rail no.233, pp.22/23; Railway Magazine no.1125, p.24 [note that Railway Magazine no.1121, p.22 erroneously claims date was 18 July]
    viii. Eurotunnel Annual Report, 1994, p.5 et seq.; Today's Railways no.4, p.10; Rail no.240, p.16
    ix. Today’s Railways no.20; Railway Magazine no.1156, p.12
    x. Financial Times 23.5.97; Independent 16.6.97
    xi. Rail no.233, pp.22/23; Railway Magazine no. 1121, p.22
    xii. Today's Railways no.3, pp.12/13 [note that Rail no. 240, p.16 cannot be correct as the IGC only gave authority on 2.8.94 - vide Railway Magazine no. 122, p.89]
    xiii. Eurotunnel Annual Report 1994, p.5 et seq.; Railway Magazine no. 123, p.9
    xiv. Eurotunnel Annual Report 1994, p.5 et seq.; Modern Railways February 1995, p.71; Daily Mail 17.12.94; Today's Railways no.5, p.6; Rail no.243, p.6
    xv. Modern Railways February 1995, p.71; Today's Railways no.5, p.6; Rail no.244, p.30
    xvi. Eurotunnel Annual Report 1994, p.5 et seq.; Rail no.251, p.63; Eurotunnel press release 19 April 1995
    xvii. La Vie du Rail no.2502; Eurotunnel Interim Report 1995, p. 5
    xviii. Eurotunnel Interim Report 1995, p. 5
    xix. Eurotunnel Interim Report 1995, p. 5
    xx. Eurotunnel Interim Report 1995, p. 5
    xxi. Eurotunnel Annual Report 1994, p.5 et seq.; Today's Railway no.2, p.4
    xxii. Today's Railways no.2, p.4
    xxiii. Today's Railways no.2, p.4
    xxiv. Eurotunnel - An Illustrated Journey (Eurotunnel, 1994)
    xxv. Rail no.234, p.13; Today's Railways no.3, pp.12/13
    xxvi. Eurotunnel Annual Report 1994, p.5 et seq.; Rail no. 240, p.9; Today's Railway no.3, pp.12/13
    xxvii. Trial movement of air cargo between Lyon-St.Exupéry-TGV and London St.Pancras International for Euro Carex - Independent 22.3.12
    xxviii. Initially, freight services through the tunnel continued to use 'classic' routes within Britain - the UK High Speed Line 1 (HS1) was not used for revenue (as opposed to engineering or maintenance) freight service on a regular basis until 11 November 2011, when a train from Wroclaw (Poland) arrived at Barking. This followed a series of trials from 27 May 2011; other regular flows have since started to use the line.

    Richard Maund

    A version of this chronology also appeared in Railway & Canal Historical Society Railway Chronology Group Co-ordinating Newsletter no. 51, July 2007.


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