Eurotunnel freight cars await safety clearance: Promoter in dispute with authority over shuttle service for lorries

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The Independent Online
EUROTUNNEL has yet to receive safety clearance to use its freight trailer wagons in the Channel tunnel, even though more than 100 have been delivered by their Italian manufacturers.

A long-running dispute between Eurotunnel and the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority centres around the risk of fire in the trailers, which will be used to provide a shuttle service for lorries through the 50km tunnel. The authority wants Eurotunnel to provide fully covered wagons, but the company is saying this is unnecessary.

Eurotunnel has now installed smoke detectors on the wagons in an effort to satisfy the authority, but there are still problems over the design.

Eurotunnel is due to provide an outline of the design and safety features by July. Eddy Ryder, chairman-designate of the authority, said yesterday that HGV shuttles and ventilation were the two remaining areas where Eurotunnel still had work to complete.

Presenting the authority's annual report for 1991-2, he said he was not satisfied that evacuation procedures for lorry drivers were adequate. Unlike the leisure travellers, they will not remain in their vehicles but will travel in a special car.

Rolling stock problems are threatening to delay the opening of the tunnel, scheduled for 15 December, although deliveries for the wagons made by Breda Fiat are more advanced than the vehicles for cars and buses.

A Eurotunnel spokesman said: 'We are analysing the results of the fire test and carrying out a number of other tests. They will have all the information that they have asked for.'

Mr Ryder said: 'If Eurotunnel haven't taken the right steps to satisfy us on safety, then we won't allow the tunnel to open.'

Channel Tunnel Safety Authority, Annual Report 1991-2, HMSO, pounds 11.60

Sir Alastair Morton, page 23