Bunhill: French fridges

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The Independent Online
GOOD to see that Eurotunnel and its contractor, Transmanche Link, have buried the hatchet in their cost dispute. The Queen will formally inaugurate the Channel tunnel with President Mitterrand on 6 May. While they are there, they might care to inspect the pairs of carbon- steel cooling pipes that line both tunnels.

There's a story about these pipes, told to me by a TML engineer, that is hard to believe. Cold water flowing through them is intended to stop the tunnels overheating. The system, complete with pumping stations and 120 miles of pipe, has the power of 100,000 fridges and has been hugely expensive. First there was the design and installation. Then the redesign and reinstallation, when the pipes fell down because the brackets weren't strong enough.

Now, according to my TML mole (groan), the entire system may be redundant: the speed limit in the tunnel has been dropped, so the trains will not generate as much heat.

Eurotunnel denies the system is a white elephant. 'It is very much a necessity,' insists a spokeswoman. 'The heat will build up.'

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