Eurotunnel this week insisted that the installation of a fire suppression system in the Channel Tunnel was on schedule even though no contract had been awarded six months after bids were invited.
The operator sought bids for the supply and installation of fire detection and fire suppression systems in the Official Journal of the European Union on 15 May. The deadline for tenders was 29 May but six months later, Eurotunnel said it was not yet ready to award the contract.
“We are still discussing the options with various suppliers,” said a spokesman. He added that the first stage of the project would involve installing a prototype within the tunnel “as early as possible” into 2010.
“We are still discussing the options with various suppliers.”
Halcrow fire safety engineering director Fathi Tarada said that bypassing consultants and contractors and advertising to suppliers was “putting the cart before the horse”.
The spokesman said the preferred option was a fixed fire suppression system at different locations in the tunnels. Intallation is due for completion in 2011.
Eurotunnel began to reexamine its fire safety system after a fire last year cost it £54M in repairs and £180M in lost revenue during its subsequent five month closure. Until then, the system prioritised human safety. But speaking at a conference in Paris last week, Tarada said the operator should instead focus on protecting its infrastructure.
“A lot of people think a fire suppression system is for protecting lives but network integrity in the most important issue,” he said.