Channel Tunnel 1970s Attempt

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Jorge Da Silva

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I can't post an image from my book

Work the building of the channel tunnel. Page 56 and 57

Under the 1989 proposal

The route was to run to Waterloo and Kings Cross (via tunnel through the south part of London) via Ashford.

In the Railway metropolis page 153 there is a map of the routes proposed at various points:

  1. 1972: Folkestone-Ashford -Tonbridge-Croydon and to a terminus at Kensington Olympia
  2. 1988: Folkestone-Ashford- East of Tonbridge- Maidstone (westside of the town)- Swanley-Waterloo
  3. 1989: Folkestone-Ashford- Maidstone East side of the town- Swanley North- Waterloo and Kings Cross
  4. Rail Europe had a route from Ashford to the Isle of Grain (or around there) to Stratford and London
some very interesting routes


@Sad Sprinter hope this helps

Stock i believe was universal networkers (correct me if i am wrong)
 
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Taunton

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I think the 1972 one provided illustrations that appeared in Modern Railways at the time (and were maybe reprinted later). It used a Hornby model railway train going into a simple tunnel mouth, formed of unfitted wagons and a 1950s BR brake van, complete with coal stove chimney :)
 

WesternLancer

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Universal Networkers Class 342 was for the CTRL's domestic services. Never got beyond the proposal stage.
so not the 1970s planned trains. Yes, as I recall images were as Taunton says. I think a Class 83 type AC loco.

Transcript from a 1961 Trains Illustrated article that must have been looking forwards:


although scheme details probably altered after this description (which may not have been official govt one?)

Later 60s images with a working model railway in this pathe clip - in pathe's usual style!

Does indeed look like Hornby were the rolling stock contractor...
 
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Gloster

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It brings to mind the joke about the inauguration of the escalators linking the ten-mile long British Channel Tunnel and the ten-mile long French Channel Bridge.
 

randyrippley

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so not the 1970s planned trains. Yes, as I recall images were as Taunton says. I think a Class 83 type AC loco.

Transcript from a 1961 Trains Illustrated article that must have been looking forwards:


although scheme details probably altered after this description (which may not have been official govt one?)

Later 60s images with a working model railway in this pathe clip - in pathe's usual style!

Does indeed look like Hornby were the rolling stock contractor...


Those models are Tri-Ang, not Hornby
They were designed before the takeover
 

MotCO

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so not the 1970s planned trains. Yes, as I recall images were as Taunton says. I think a Class 83 type AC loco.

Transcript from a 1961 Trains Illustrated article that must have been looking forwards:


although scheme details probably altered after this description (which may not have been official govt one?)

Later 60s images with a working model railway in this pathe clip - in pathe's usual style!

Does indeed look like Hornby were the rolling stock contractor...

The hyperlinked file includes the following "Each tunnel would be 2ft 4in in diameter, with a clearance height of 14ft 9in above the track. Between the main tunnels would run a service tunnel 10ft lOin indiameter." Methinks (and hopes) it was a mistype :D
 

Sad Sprinter

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I can't post an image from my book

Work the building of the channel tunnel. Page 56 and 57

Under the 1989 proposal

The route was to run to Waterloo and Kings Cross (via tunnel through the south part of London) via Ashford.

In the Railway metropolis page 153 there is a map of the routes proposed at various points:

  1. 1972: Folkestone-Ashford -Tonbridge-Croydon and to a terminus at Kensington Olympia
  2. 1988: Folkestone-Ashford- East of Tonbridge- Maidstone (westside of the town)- Swanley-Waterloo
  3. 1989: Folkestone-Ashford- Maidstone East side of the town- Swanley North- Waterloo and Kings Cross
  4. Rail Europe had a route from Ashford to the Isle of Grain (or around there) to Stratford and London
some very interesting routes


@Sad Sprinter hope this helps

Stock i believe was universal networkers (correct me if i am wrong)

Thanks Jorge, its the 1972 proposal I was wondering about. Also heard that Surrey Docks could have been a terminus alongside Kensington.

As I understand it, the train in my DP is a Universal Networker. I think the CTRL trains might have been this thing.

Transcript from a 1961 Trains Illustrated article that must have been looking forwards:


Thanks, very interesting. So it looks like it would have been a dual voltage loco until Lille where a loco change would take place.
 
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The version in the 1961 article appears to predate the idea of a dedicated link through Kent (which was, controversially, part of the 1970s scheme and by some accounts helped sink it). The alternative idea of running Berne gauge trains only as far as an interchange at the British end of the tunnel, as described in the article, was briefly revived in the late 1970s by BR for the "Mousehole" proposal, which was a low-cost, single-track version of the scheme abandoned a few years earlier.

I think The Channel Tunnel Story by Michael Bonavia is supposed to be a good source on the 1970s scheme (which Bonavia was involved in), but, not having read it, I can't be certain.
 
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Thanks, I'll have a look and see if theres any useful sections previewed on Google Books.
I don't know about Google Books, but I was able to "borrow" a copy for an hour on the Internet Archive (requires free registration): Link.

Chapters 6-14 of Bonavia's book cover the post-WWII version of the tunnel project up to abandonment in 1975. Chapter 10 (on the 1970s new line project) mentions that SNCF introduced the idea of running "Europolitain" (i.e. TGV) trains through the tunnel "early in 1970" and this was what gave rise to the requirement for the new line (although it was seemingly also to cater for Berne gauge freight traffic; I don't know whether there was any proposal for a domestic passenger service). Bonavia also mentions an earlier proposal to run conventional passenger stock through the tunnel, which led the Railway Inspectorate to insist on the toilets being locked for the duration of the tunnel passage - the French couldn't see why this was required, as it wasn't in the Alpine tunnels, but the eventual decision was that retention tanks would be widespread by the time the tunnel opened. (It's not clear, from a cursory glance, what the conventional stock would have been; there seems to have been some debate pre-1970 over whether BR gauge trains should run into France, Berne gauge ones to London, or passengers interchange between the two at a station in the Folkestone area.)

(Edit: also, try The Official History of Britain and the Channel Tunnel by Terry Gourvish on Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=umajBX1HbQcC)
 
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Doomotron

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Am I right in thinking that a small amount of digging actually occurred? If so, how much?
 

Cowley

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Am I right in thinking that a small amount of digging actually occurred? If so, how much?
I think the original short section of tunnel (around quarter of a mile long) was eventually used as an access tunnel to the work site of the current tunnel?
Both us and France had tunnel boring machines in situ before it was cancelled.
 
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and that was the 1970s tunnel!!
:rolleyes:
Yes - I was thinking that even at the end the 1970s scheme was projecting an opening in 1980, and as the debate over toilets seems to have been pre-1970 it's likely that an even earlier opening date was predicted at that stage, so the conclusion on retention tanks appears to have been rather optimistic.
 

WesternLancer

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Yes - I was thinking that even at the end the 1970s scheme was projecting an opening in 1980, and as the debate over toilets seems to have been pre-1970 it's likely that an even earlier opening date was predicted at that stage, so the conclusion on retention tanks appears to have been rather optimistic.
Yes, can't recall which UK rolling stock was the 1st to be built WITH retention toilets (apart from maybe sleepers) I'm wondering if it would have been in the 1990s?
 

BahrainLad

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IMG_0697.jpeg

I visited the National Railway Museum a couple of weeks ago and there is this 1970s model of a Channel Tunnel rail link, running parallel with the existing line, and featuring decidedly continental stock!
 

LNW-GW Joint

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What I always found astonishing was that the Southern Region of BR formally objected to the project because it would disrupt their commuter network, and also damage their cross-Channel ferry business (Sealink being then still in BR hands).
It shows how powerful the BR Regions were in those days, against a relatively weak BR HQ.
BR HQ kept looking for routes/terminals which would placate the SR, but the government gave up as the route costs escalated.
I think the last suggestion before cancellation in 1975 was to run from Folkestone as far as Edenbridge and then turn up the Oxted line, with a tunnel under Croydon to eventually reach Kensington.
It was amazing how much the context changed by the time the present scheme was authorised (minus a new line in Kent) in 1986.
 

MotCO

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View attachment 86628

I visited the National Railway Museum a couple of weeks ago and there is this 1970s model of a Channel Tunnel rail link, running parallel with the existing line, and featuring decidedly continental stock!

Was this layout originally at the Eurotunnel visitor centre at Ashford? I seem to recall that it used the 'continental' stock.
 

Flying Phil

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Wasn't there an even earlier proposal, with Edward Watkin involved, which actually dug about a mile of tunnel in the 1890's?
 

BahrainLad

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Was this layout originally at the Eurotunnel visitor centre at Ashford? I seem to recall that it used the 'continental' stock.
No, that was a working N guage model railway and its now (well, half of it) on display at the Elham Valley line.

 

Grumpy

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What I always found astonishing was that the Southern Region of BR formally objected to the project because it would disrupt their commuter network, and also damage their cross-Channel ferry business (Sealink being then still in BR hands).
It shows how powerful the BR Regions were in those days, against a relatively weak BR HQ.
BR HQ kept looking for routes/terminals which would placate the SR, but the government gave up as the route costs escalated.
I think the last suggestion before cancellation in 1975 was to run from Folkestone as far as Edenbridge and then turn up the Oxted line, with a tunnel under Croydon to eventually reach Kensington.
This is pretty much spot on. The huge costs proposed by BR for the rail link are what killed off the 1970's proposal for the Channel Tunnel, not the cost of the Channel Tunnel itself.
Southern Region arguments about disrupting the commuter network were nonsense. There were lots of paths in the timetable throughout the day for boat trains, including reliefs, to run from Dover/Folkestone to Victoria. These paths could have been used for through trains from Paris and Brussels. Related to this there was no need to provide tracks for Berne (or whatever) gauge rolling stock-BR gauge was all that was needed. Any suggestion at the time that trains could be built for both 25kv overhead and 3rd rail DC were met with derision
 

DerekC

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There's a good article on the 1880 attempt here:

https://www.subbrit.org.uk/sites/channel-tunnel-1880-attempt/

There had been numerous proposals for a tunnel under the channel throughout the 19th Century including one by Napoleon, but the first serious attempt to build a tunnel came with an Act of Parliament in 1875 authorising the Channel Tunnel Company Ltd. to start preliminary trials. This was an Anglo French project with a simultaneous Act of Parliament in France. By 1877 several shafts had been sunk to a depth of 330 feet at Sangatte in France but initial work carried out at St. Margaret’s Bay, to the east of Dover had to be abandoned due to flooding. In 1880 under the direction of Sir Edward Watkin, Chairman of the South Eastern Railway, a new shaft (No. 1 shaft) was sunk at Abbot’s Cliff, between Dover and Folkestone with a horizontal gallery being driven along the cliff, 10 feet above the high water mark. This seven foot diameter pilot tunnel was eventually to be enlarged to standard gauge with a connection to the South Eastern Railway.

After Welsh miners had bored 800 feet of tunnel a second shaft (No 2) was sunk at Shakespeare Cliff in February 1881. This tunnel was started under the foreshore heading towards a mid channel meeting with the French pilot tunnel......... eventually the Board of Trade applied for a High Court order giving them access to the Shakespeare Cliff heading; following this the tunneling stopped. Following the inspection the Board recommended that the work should cease but Watkin again ignored this request and continued boring the tunnel whenever there were no visitors.

By the end of 1882 the Abbot’s Cliff heading had reached 897 yards and that at Shakespeare Cliff was 2,040 yards in length. The Board of Trade paid a further visit and reported that a further 70 yards had been bored in breach of the injunction as a result the Board took out further court proceedings against the company despite the fact that they later admitted their calculations were wrong.
 

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