A rail link for the Channel Tunnel
It had been years since France and Britain decided to link their two countries together, and in January 1986 the British Prime Minister and the French President finally agreed on how to do it. They decided against a bridge across the Channel, agreeing that a tunnel was safer. They also thought that a railway line was more practical than a road.
The project was ambitious, but it has been a great success. This is a good thing, since the Channel Tunnel (often called the ‘Chunnel’) cost $ 15 billion to build. It consists of 3 tubes: one track each way plus a service tunnel. Nearly 13,000 engineers, technicians and other people worked on the tunnel. All the material they took out from the tunnel has been placed on the British side, where it has been made into a park.
The train that travels through the Chunnel is called Eurostar. It takes 2 hours and 15 minutes from London to Paris, so from the centre of London to the centre of Paris it’s quicker to go by train than by plane. The Eurostar train has 770 seats and offers three ticket classes – Premium First, first and second class. There are two bars where you can buy drinks and snacks onboard, and there is also a special area where children can play. For the first time since the Ice Ages, Great Britain is joined to the rest of Europe.
Decide which of these statements are true. Then correct the false statements:
- The French and British chose a tunnel because it would be cheaper than a bridge.
- The material the workers removed from the tunnel has been made into a place where people can relax in the open air.
- The train trip from London to Paris takes 2.5 hours.
- Getting from central London to central Paris by rail is faster than flying.
- The Eurostar train seats almost 800 passengers.
- The train has three classes – first, second and third class.
- Children seem to be welcome on Eurostar.
- Britain has never before been linked to the rest of Europe.
Activities for the links below
1) Read the text at the first link and then answer the questions below.
- Before the Chunnel was built, what were the main advantages and disadvantages to Britain of being on the “other” side of the English Channel?
- Why were plans for a channel tunnel scrapped in earlier times?
- What does Eurostar carry?
- How long is the Chunnel in kilometers?
- In which country did work on the tunnel first start?
- Why has the tunnel not always made a profit?
- What is the tendency regarding cargo on Eurostar?
- What happened when fire broke out?
2) Since there are some difficult expressions in the second link, it is best to work in pairs and use dictionaries. You may also need to ask your teacher to help you. Your task is to make a list of the points in the text which mention the eco-friendly aspects of Eurostar and combine them in a paragraph called “Eurostar and the environment”. Resist the temptation to use the vocabulary of the original text.