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Freight, passenger traffic resume in Channel Tunnel

Paris, September 13, 2008

Freight and passenger traffic resumed on Saturday in the Channel Tunnel linking Britain to continental Europe after a fire on Thursday that completely halted traffic, the Eurotunnel and Eurostar companies said.

Eurostar, which runs passenger trains through the undersea tunnel, said it would run up to 12 trains each way on Saturday between London and Paris and up to six each way between London and Brussels. That represents about half the normal traffic.

Travel times would be longer than normal, the company said. Eurostar trains usually cover the distance from Paris to London in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Eurotunnel, which manages the undersea rail link, said traffic in the tunnel had resumed just before 2300 GMT on Friday.

"Having carried out a comprehensive technical inspection of the infrastructure in the south rail tunnel, and having sent empty test shuttles through, Eurotunnel announces that Channel Tunnel traffic resumes," the company said in a statement.

"Eurotunnel's various rail services using the Channel Tunnel started to resume from 00:53 (French time), beginning with rail freight trains followed by Eurotunnel truck shuttles," it said.

The fire in the tunnel was put out late on Friday, almost 20 hours after it took hold on a freight train being transported through the facility.

No one was killed in the fire, which turned the north shaft into an inferno, with temperatures reaching 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 Fahrenheit). Officials have said the fire appeared to have started by accident but it was too early to identify the exact cause.

Investigators were unable to reach some sections of the tunnel by late Friday due to dangerously high temperatures. The halt in all rail traffic through the tunnel caused major difficulties for passengers on both sides.

On Saturday, Eurostar was advising ticket holders to present themselves at the scheduled time and wait for the first available train. "Check-in times will certainly be longer than usual," the company said. - Reuters 




Tags: | Fire | Eurostar | Channel Tunnel | Eurotunnel |

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