Eurostar has announced it was restoring services to almost the same levels as before last month’s tunnel fire, as work to clear the debris from last month’s tunnel fire progresses.
This has increased the number of trains Eurotunnel can accommodate daily to 100 truck shuttles, 40 car and coach shuttles and 58 Eurostar passenger trains. Eurostar is now offering 16 trains every weekday each way between London and Paris, nine trains every weekday between London and Brussels and a daily train each way between London and Disneyland Paris.
The new timetable represents 93% of Eurostar seat capacity before the incident. It is expected to continue in force for some months - into the first half of 2009 - before Eurotunnel, the Channel tunnel operator, is able to restore full access to both tunnels under the sea.
French authorities investigating the 11 September fire have given the go ahead for Eurotunnel to haul out the first third of the fire-damÂaged train. The fire blazed for 16 hours and reached temperatures of up to 1,000¼C. The damaged train showed that all the trucks on board burnt out but there was only minimal damage to the locomotive and club car, where lorry drivers travel during the journey.
This could help Eurotunnel avoid pressure to change the design of the lorry shuttle trains, whose open sides allowed air to fan in the last fire, as well as a previous incident in 1996.
Jacques Gounon, Eurotunnel’s executive chairman, said he hoped repair work would be completed more quickly than after the 1996 fire, when it took six months.