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Eurotunnel 'satisfied' with fire response

Eurotunnel has declared itself “satisfied” with its response to the fire that caused delays to Channel Tunnel rail services last weekend.

Eurotunnel last week declared itself “satisfied” with its response to a fire that last week delayed Channel Tunnel rail services.

Passenger and freight services were suspended in both directions on Saturday 17 January after a fire on a freight train in the tunnel.

Services did not resume through the tunnel until the early hours of the Sunday, but there were delays of up to five hours later in the day, before shorter hold-ups continuing the following day.

“After every incident we have a review,” said a Eurotunnel spokesman on 19 January. “On first viewing everything worked very well. We got people out without injury or fuss, and only estimate 24 hours of infrastructure work.We are satisfied.”

But he added that the firm would look at whether there were any lessons it could learn to reduce disruption from such incidents in the future.

“Could it be dealt with even quicker? We always look into this.”

The incident occurred at 11.25am on Saturday 17 January in the north running tunnel, between a third and half of the way between the French tunnel entrance to the English exit.

Two consecutive carbon dioxide alarms sounded, setting off an automatic response. The 850m-long freight train was brought to a controlled stop before all 38 truck drivers and four members of Eurotunnel staff were evacuated.

Trains ahead of the incident continued to England, and those behind it returned to France. In the south running tunnel, all trains completed their journeys. No new trains entered either tunnel.

An initial inspection of the halted train was carried out, alongside a thorough investigation of each truck and its contents. The problem vehicle was identified, with “smouldering cargo that had led to the smoke that set off the carbon dioxide sensors”.

Hoses were used to douse the cargo, before the incident was declared over.

Then there was a clean-up and checking operation, as well as smoke pumping.

One of the fire suppression systems introduced after the catastrophic fire of 2008 was activated manually to contain smoke.

The south running tunnel reopened in the early hours of the 16 January, with services running in one direction at a time. As investigators continued their work, the problem train was brought to the entrance that afternoon.

A 24-hour maintenance period began in the north-running tunnel later that night.

This mainly consisted of jet hosing the track and checking electronics and equipment. “There was light dirt and damage,” said the Eurotunnel spokesman.

  • Further infrastructure problems led to more delays on Channel Tunnel rail services during last week. NCE has approached Eurotunnel for an update.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Fine! The problem identified and dealt with, all passengers and crew evacuated safely. What more could one want?
    Well perhaps a better system to deal with delayed passengers and freight.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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