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Celebrations mark 20 years of the Channel Tunnel

Channel Tunnel, Folkestone
The Channel Tunnel has been open for 20 years Credit: Chris Ison/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Channel Tunnel is celebrating its 20th anniversary today.

Exactly 20 years ago the Queen became one of the first passengers to cross from Kent to France by train through the 23.5 mile tunnel.

Shuttles transport cars, coaches and lorries between England and France along twin railway tunnels. Eurostar also uses the Channel Tunnel to run high speed rail services from London to Paris and Brussels.

Since opening more than 330 million passengers have used the tunnel, with more than 65 million vehicles, 20 million of those being trucks.

Delays on Channel Tunnel crossings

Two separate incidents have led to hours-long delays to those taking Folkestone-Calais shuttle trains and high-speed Eurostar services between London and Paris and Brussels via the tunnel.

The first problem came earlier today when a fatality near Lille in northern France involving a French high-speed train resulted in diversions and delays to Eurostar trains.

Then, just as Eurostar services were getting back to normal, a Eurotunnel passenger shuttle train broke down in the tunnel leading to further delays to Eurostar services and long hold-ups of up to four hours for shuttle-train passengers.

Drugs seized at the Channel Tunnel

A 42-year-old Dutch man has been charged with drug smuggling after Border Force officers at the Channel Tunnel entrance in Coquelles, France seized drugs with an estimated street value in excess of £5 million.

Exact quantities are still being assessed but the haul included heroin, amphetamine and cannabis.

The drugs were discovered on Saturday when officers stopped and searched a Dutch-registered lorry. The drugs were found in brown cardboard boxes within the vehicle’s load of empty plastic containers.

Hendrik DEKKER, from Nijkerk, Netherlands, appeared at Folkestone Magistrates Court yesterday, charged with the importation.

He pleaded not guilty and was remanded in custody.

Paul Morgan, Director of Border Force South East and Europe said:

“This was an excellent seizure by our officers and it has kept a large amount of harmful drugs off our streets.

“We will continue to work hard to keep our borders safe and crack down on drug smuggling.”

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Tunnel workers treated for carbon monoxide poisoning

Channel Tunnel Credit: PA

French officials say nineteen workers have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning while working overnight in the Channel Tunnel, with one of them in a serious condition.

The incident happened as some 60 workers were changing rail tracks on the line between Calais, France, and Folkestone.

A welder was taken ill in the early hours of Sunday and carbon monoxide poisoning was later diagnosed.

Tunnel traffic was unaffected.

Eighteen other workers have also been taken ill.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the incident.

Heroin seized at Channel Tunnel

An estimated 30 kilos of heroin has been seized at the Channel Tunnel.

The drugs, which have an estimated street value of up to £1.5 million, were discovered on Sunday when officers stopped a Dutch-registered car at the Channel Tunnel entrance in Coquelles, France.

Debora DAATZELAAR and Paul VAN RIJN, both aged 49 and from the Netherlands, appeared at Canterbury Magistrates Court yesterday, Tuesday 27 August, charged with the attempted importation.

They were remanded in custody and will next appear at Canterbury Crown Court on 16 September.

“Border Force is at the forefront of the fight to stop drugs entering the UK. We are determined to protect society from this activity which can have such a destructive impact on communities as well as individuals.

“Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling should call the Hotline 0800 59 5000.”

– Paul Morgan, Director of Border Force South East and Europe

TRAVEL - TRAINS: Delays on Eurostar - broken down train now removed from tunnel

There are delays of up to 50 minutes on Eurostar between St Pancras International and Ashford International, and between St Pancras and Ebbsfleet International because of an earlier broken down train in the Channel Tunnel.

The broken down train has now been moved and both lines are now available through the tunnel again. However knock-on delays are still ongoing.

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