Travel by numbers: the Channel Tunnel
As normal service is resumed on Eurostar following last year’s Tunnel fire, Ben Ross does the maths on Britain’s rail link with the Continent
Saturday 21 February 2009
The top cruising speed, in miles per hour, of a Eurostar train, which means you can get your winter snow fix all the faster. Eurostar runs two “snow trains” – one on Friday evening and one on Saturday morning – from London St Pancras to the resorts of Moûtiers, Aime la Plagne and Bourg St Maurice until 18 April (08705 186 186; eurostar.com).
The year a French mining engineer called Albert Mathieu suggested a tunnel under La Manche, with an artificial island halfway across to allow carriages to harness fresh horses. During the next 192 years a couple of fitful attempts were made, before the Channel Tunnel finally opened for business in 1994, connecting Folkestone with Sangatte near Calais – though without the island and the horses. Railway enthusiasts can see a cross-section of the Tunnel at the National Railway Museum in York (08448 153 139; nrm.org.uk). Open daily 10am-6pm, admission free.
The time, in minutes, that it takes a Eurotunnel shuttle to whisk your car from Folkestone to Calais. Other numbers: junction 11A on the M20 takes you to check-in on the UK side; junction 42 of the A16 is where you embark at the French end; one-way fares start at £49 for a car and all its passengers; and you can call Eurotunnel on 08705 35 35 35 (eurotunnel.com).
The number of daily cross-Channel car ferry services currently operating from Dover. Predictions that the opening of the Channel Tunnel would spell the end of ferry operators proved to be wide of the mark, and since then the shipping options have actually improved – see page XIII of the France special with this edition for details. Competition is so intense that fares on what was once the most expensive sea crossing in the world have tumbled to as little as £19 one-way.
The length, in metres, of the champagne bar in London’s St Pancras International station, which makes it the longest in Europe. The opening of the station in November 2007 coincided with the arrival of the UK’s only piece of high-speed rail-line, which cut journey times between the British and Belgian capitals to under two hours. All the more time to drink fizz, then. A glass starts at £7.50; bottles from £42 (stpancras.com).
The extra cost, in euros, of extending a Eurostar journey beyond Brussels to any other station in Belgium. You can travel to Ostend, Bruges, Ghent or Antwerp (all in Flanders), or to Liège, Namur and Charleroi (in southern portion of Belgium, known as Wallonia)just by showing a valid Eurostar ticket. For more information, see visitflanders.com or belgiumtheplaceto.be
The number of people who visited Disneyland Paris last year. Should you wish to add to this figure, Eurostar operates a daily direct service, leaving London St Pancras International at 8.53am and arriving at the resort at 12.31pm (all local times). Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 15th birthday with various offers, including free admission and accommodation for under sevens (disneylandparis.com).
The number of fires which have occurred in the Channel Tunnel, most recently on 11 September last year. Following repairs to the Tunnel, Eurostar’s full schedule will resume from London St Pancras station (pictured) on Monday, slightly earlier than originally planned. Passengers who have already booked to travel before 11 March should call 08705 186 186 or see eurostar.com for updated timetables. Paris will be just 2 hours and 15 minutes away, for fares starting at £59 return.
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