The train that could not get through the Channel tunnel

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The Independent Online
The last time steam locomotive No 1556 went to France, in the First World War, it travelled by ship. Eighty years and a pounds 10bn Channel tunnel rail link later, No 1556 was on its way back to France yesterday. And once again, pictured left at Dover harbour, it was going by ship.

The tank engine, built in 1909 in Ashford, Kent, cannot make its way through the Channel tunnel under its own steam because it would have played havoc with the link's smoke detectors. It would also not fit on a Le Shuttle freight wagon.

The engine, operated by Kent and East Sussex Railway, was requisitioned to haul munitions in Boulogne. K&ESR is being twinned with Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme - at Noyelles, 50 miles from Calais. The engine is to join Noyelles' festival of steam this weekend. P&O Ferries was quick to help and relish the irony. "There are things the tunnel simply can't do," a spokesman said.

Photograph: David Giles / PA

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