The Channel Tunnel

creating a modern wonder-of-the-world


Showcase Project

Jack K. Lemley, Transmanche-Link, Folkestone, Kent, England


The idea of a Fixed Link between Britain and the European mainland was first seriously considered in Napoleonic times. Since then, plan after plan has been suggested. A tunnel was even started in 1880 only to be stopped two years later after British fears of an invasion became too great. Nearly a century later, in 1975, another start was aborted on political rather than military grounds.

Still the idea would not go away and today not one but three tunnels link the United Kingdom and France as part of what the French press has dubbed Le Projet du Siecle—the Project of the Century

Transmanche-Link (TML) is the contractor responsible for designing constructing and commissioning what is generally known as the Channel Tunnel but which is in fact a project encompassing far more than the trio of tunnels under the Channel. As such, it is acting on behalf of its client, Eurotunnel. A totally separate entity, Eurotunnel will own and operate the Fixed Link once it is completed. It is the world's largest privately funded construction project to date-with no government funding whatsoever. Instead, the largest banking syndicate even put together is providing the equity

TML is a consortium of ten major construction companies: five British and five French (see right). When first formed in 1986 it had a total staff of six. At peak that figure rose to nearly 14,500 and daily expenditure averaged over $5.5 million.

While TML exists in a liaison capacity to coordinate the project, two separate companies were formed to carry out the work on their respective sides of the Channel: GIE Transmanche Construction based in Calais, France, and Translink Joint Venture which is headquartered in the U.K.

All over the world people refer to the project as the Channel Tunnel, or even the Chunnel. Media attention centred on the tunneling and the tunnelers. Distances dug were monitored avidly, breakthroughs were heralded, and a huge part of the project has been virtually ignored.

TML is responsible for far more than driving some 170 kilometres of tunnels between Folkestone in the U.K. and Coquelles in France. It is, in fact, creating and commissioning an entire transportation system.

The system is in essence a railway and two of the three tunnels now under the Channel will carry high-speed mainline passenger and freight trains between the U.K. and France, as well as special shuttle trains loaded with vehicles and their drivers and passengers. These shuttles' locos and wagons (the largest, most sophisticated wagons ever built) are TML's responsibility, as are the rails on which they run, the catenary that brings power to them, the state-of-the-art signaling that guides them and any number of other ancillary systems essential to a twenty-first century railway. They have all had to be designed, purchased, fitted and commissioned.

At either end of the Eurotunnel system between England and France two huge terminals have been designed and built from scratch—by TML. Where there were once just fields, tracks have been laid, platforms, access ramps and associated bridges built and service buildings erected. Each Terminal could in its own right be counted among the biggest civil engineering jobs carried out in Europe during the closing decades of the century.

Of course, the tunnels are the heart of the system. The two large Running Tunnels carrying the railway have a smaller Service Tunnel separating them (which has its own mini, purpose-built transportation system). Massively complex drainage, cooling and ventilation systems have also had to recreated and to make the concrete segments which line the tunnels, TML built its own facilities on both sides of the Channel. In output terms, they were the equal to any precast concrete works in the world.

The prime technical objective of the Fixed Link is to join the principal road and rail networks of the U.K. and France. However, it will also form part of a major revision of transportation systems in Europe as a whole. There are at least 100 million people within just a 300-mile radius of the tunnels but the ramifications are expected to extend even further, particularly within the so-called London/Frankfurt/Milan Golden Triangle.

Transmanche-Link (TML)


Balfour Beatty Construction Limited

Costain Civil Engineering Limited

Tarmac Construction Limited

Taylor Woodrow Construction Holdings Limited

Wimpey Major Projects, Limited


Bouygues S.A.

Lyonnaise des Eaux Dumez

Societe Auxiliare d'Entreprises S.A

Societe Generale d'Entreprises S.A.

Spie Batignolles S.A.

Total cross-Channel travel has increased substantially in recent years and it is foreseen that this growth will continue, with the Fixed Link's share in the year 2000 predicted to be 44.6 million passengers and 26.8 million tonnes of freight.

The linking of the rail networks of the U.K. and mainland Europe will also create a new competitive opportunity for the railways vis a vis both sea and air transportation.

When the tunnel opens, through passenger trains operated by British Rail and SNCF (the French Railways) as well as the SNCB (the Belgium Railways) are expected to travel between London and Paris in just three hours. If a high speed rail link between the London and the U.K. Terminal at Folkestone is built, this will be reduced by a further thirty minutes.

The railways expect their passenger service to be competitive with air services in terms of both price and time of journey

In addition, the movement of freight over greater distances by a single mode of transport, with consequent improvements in reliability and speed is expected to lead to a substantial increase in the railways' share of the cross-Channel market. Freight trains will directly connect centres in different parts of the U.K. with a range of places in Continental Europe and will be able to reach most major destinations within 36 hours.

Both road and rail users will be able to take advantage of such time-saving advantages of the Fixed Link in the near future. They will enjoy this thanks to organisational and management techniques which have allowed its creation, despite the vast size and scope of the project, in just seven years.

…once the contract has been signed and work has begun, the patties must continue to build on and enhance the fundamental principles upon which the venture was founded. This means developing an appropriate, achievable vision for the project and communicating it to all parties to the contract, both internal and external.


Excavating the French cross-over to reveal the already-built tunnel.

Photography by Q.A. Photos Limited, Hythe, Kent, England

... cultural differences should be considered as opportunities, something that can add value to the total project culture you are creating.

As participating contractors examine these requirements, more often than not they come to realise it is necessary to add specific resources to their own in order to have a complete capability. They must determine first if the capability exists elsewhere or can be developed in a timely cost-effective manner, within their own organisation.

There is also the need to consider sociological, legal, political and similar issues. Either the partners forming the consortium feel qualified to handle them or other expertise must be brought in, either through direct participation as a partner, or as a consultant or subcontractor. These so-called “extra-contractual” aspects of a project are often what make or break it.

Related to this is the issue of the cultural environment, both corporate and national. As the European Community comes closer together, organisations and entities across Europe will of necessity undertake a large number of programmed that require partnering. History tells us that the barriers to such partnering are formidable. Distinct and individual languages and cultures govern and provide the foundations for wider variations in legal systems, financial institutions, and personal characteristics.

The cultural issues are difficult to come to terms with because each joint venture, as it matures, must go beyond national cultural distinctions to develop a corporate culture commensurate with the project's established vision. In doing so, care must be taken to understand the approach of each partner to problem solving and issues such as ethics and the levels of professionalism required for various activities. It is important that there is an appreciation of the organisational culture by all members of the consortium, at all levels. In the long-term, such communication and the development of channels through which it can freely flow is perhaps the most important aspect of the partnership.

The consortium's approach to management and organisation structure is both extremely important and highly sensitive, especially in the ad hoc world of construction where contracts are put together to solve a particular set of circumstances over a specified period of time. Establishing, understanding and communicating the corporate culture are essential elements of a smoothly managed relationship. If channels of communication are developed from the first and rigorously supported during the formative stages of the consortium, the project's vision and goals can be extended in a more controlled fashion as the identified mission is accomplished. Ongoing and regular contact by the management of the various members of the consortium must be carefully nurtured. To some extent, this can be accomplished through regular management or supervisory board meetings, but it must be done on a regular basis, and it must extend from and beyond such formal meetings to the whole organisation. If there is room for creativity in management, it must begin here.

Any major development requires great sums of money and it is necessary for all concerned that financial considerations be thoroughly analysed. This is particularly true of mega-projects where the worth of all the consortium partners combined will not usually equal the value of the contract. Inclusion of a resource expert capable of understanding and handling the implications of project financial concerns, both internal and external, is in most cases a necessity In the case of government ownership, finance may come from the public purse. More and more frequently it comes from outside private sources. Either way, the consortium must be reimbursed on a regular basis for the real work done, or the project cannot be carried forward expeditiously or with full concentration on the mission.

When privatisation is discussed, much has been made of BOT (Build, Own/Operate and Transfer) facilities. Fundamental to the success of any BOT project is the idea that the government or other sponsoring entity must uphold its end of the implied Partnership. When a concession is awarded and an organisation takes up the challenge of developing a facility to fulfilthe concession agreement, there is a certain reliance on the part of the developer that the Government entity granting the concession for the right to develop the facility will also fully support its development. Failure to do so will in all likelihood result in the failure of the partnership,


So much for the rules. In most mega-projects, however, their full application to the formation of a joint venture or consortium knot always easy The evolution of the Transmanche-Link consortium (TML) from concept to reality in a complex, politically sensitive environment is a case in point.

After the British and French governments accepted the offer of a group of British and French bank to carry out a study of the feasibility of a privately funded scheme to cross the Channel, a historic meeting between banks and contractors took place on March 9, 1983. At that meeting, the decision was made to put forward a tunnel scheme with equal British and French involvement.

Unfortunately the consortium was unable to practice some of the rules. Throughout 1984 and 1985 it was unclear whether or not a concession would be awarded, either to the tunneling group or to others. In those circumstances none of the partners was willing to risk the large sums involved in research and pre-planning.

In contrast, once the governments made a decision, speed became of the essence if this single window of opportunity was not to be missed. Whether it was liked or not, the project was on a fast track.

In February 1986, the French and British governments signed the Treaty of Canterbury which was the basic agreement between the governments that a Fixed Link project should go ahead. It provided for the all-important guarantee against political cancellation and for the grant of a concession to a private group of promoters.

Then, the March 1986 Concession Agreement authorised the successful promoting group, made up of construction firms and banking interests, to construct the tunnel “at their own risk and without recourse to government funds or government financial or commercial guarantees, regardless of whatever hazards may be encountered.” (The Concession, which lasts for 55 years, is the basic instrument regulating the Fixed Link.)

Thus a private group had to raise all of the capital necessary to design and build the project as well as to fund the start-up and commissioning of the transportation system itself. The contractor, TML, was then progressively separated from the prospective owner, Eurotunnel, to allow the latter to concentrate on raising project finance and the former to prepare proposals for submission to Eurotunnel for the design, construction and commissioning of the project.

Five British companies known as Translink and five French companies known as Transmanche combine to form Transmanche-Link, or TML, so the term ‘culture’ has always had both national and corporate sides. As might be expected during the initial phase of the project, the conduct of the work at the sites on either side of the Channel was generally separate and distinct since conditions for each were unique. TML's organisation was established with this in mind, allowing the project to get off to a very fast start (see Organising The Project).

Over the years the management structure has evolved to keep pace with the evolution of the project. Throughout, communication, both flexible and total, has focussed on making the relationship between the different disciplines and nationalities involved work for the good of all.

In national terms, the TML partnering was based upon a complete respect for the two cultures involved, as well as upon a commitment to create channels of communication to ensure that cultural differences would not be ignored but used to the advantage of both parties. This meant respecting the way people do things at all levels.

Although British and French work habits are quite different, both teams are getting the job done with equal commitment and Professionalism and each is accomplishing this with equal attention to quality and safety using the techniques and work practices with which they are most familiar. If one rigid set of rules had been imposed on the project, the project would not be where it is today with the three tunnels completed and being fitted out.

An engineering decision that illustrates how TML has used such different professional approaches to its advantage is the two crossover chambers located at the one-third points from the tunnel entrances. These huge chambers, the largest undersea caverns in the world at 158 metres long, 18 metres wide and 10.5 metres high, will allow trains to change tracks for maintenance purposes. The one closest to England was essentially constructed as a single arched chamber using the New Austrian Tunneling Method, or NATM techniques. It was constructed before the main rail tunnel's boring machines (TBMs) arrived, using access from the service tunnel. In contrast, the chamber on the French side was constructed after the TBMs had passed through its location, and was formed, in effect, by drilling a series of small parallel tunnels which themselves formed when connected an arch over the chamber, after which the earth below could be removed. Both chambers perform the same function. Both were constructed in a timely, cost-effective manner, and each was constructed using the techniques most familiar to those who were to build them.

In summary, a joint venture of consortium is a partnership, a group of people working towards a common goal. Nonetheless, cultural differences cannot be ignored. Workers from different construction disciplines as well as those from different nations have their own way of doing things. At TML, it is understood that tunnelers do not operate in the same manner as transportation engineers and that a French worker approaches his task from a different set of values than a British worker. The important point is that these are only differences, not better or worse ways of doing things.

By working with and using these cultural differences instead of ignoring them or, worse, trying to impose one rigid set of rules over the whole project, TML has gained through a kind of cultural synergy. In short, cultural differences should be considered as opportunities, something that can add value to the total project culture you are creating.

In describing the management of the world's largest-ever privately funded construction project, most of the organisational entities will be recognizable to those familiar with large, complex projects. These familiar patterns, however, have been pushed to their limits by the size, scale and complexity of the Channel Tunnel Fixed Link, requiring in many cases new or alternative schemes to be developed.

For example, in addition to the relationship between Eurotunnel, the owner, and TML, the contractor, lines of communication have also been established to an Intergovernmental Commission (IGC). Its duty is to oversee the development of the project and satisfy both the British and French governments with regard to the Concession Agreement, the basic instrument regulating the Fixed Link.

The French Terminal seen from the air in the spring of ’91

The French Terminal seen from the air in the spring of ’91.

Photography by Q.A. Photos Limited, Hythe, Kent, England

The Commission ensures that all safety standards are carefully developed and followed. In addition, it seeks to ensure that the transportation system is not only built using efficient, state-of-the-art technology but also subsequently provides the best in terms of safety and convenience to users.

The concept of a Maitre d'Oeuvre is fairly well established in France but has no exact equivalent in the United Kingdom. The closest comparison would be the function of Project Manager, although there are some aspects of the position which are more in line with those of Managing Engineer.

On the Fixed Link the Maitre d'Oeuvre, broadly speaking, represents, through the Intergovernmental Commission, the technical interests of both the British and French governments. It provides an independent overview of the entire project, identifying potential problem areas and advising on remedial measures where they are considered necessary in the interests of the project.

A cross-section of the Chunnel showing geological strata and typography

A cross-section of the Chunnel showing geological strata and typography.

Parties of the Channel Tunnel Project

Parties of the Channel Tunnel Project

Inside Eurotunnel, elements concerned with project implementation are structured into the Project Implementation Division (PID). In addition, Eurotunnel has an Operations Department charged with developing operations procedures and bringing the operator's perspective to the ultimate design of the facility Input from the Operations Department enters the project development process through the PID which then works directly with TML to implement Eurotunnel's considerations.

TML itself, as explained elsewhere, is made up of ten companies: five British and five French. The five French companies are known as Transmanche and the five British as Translink. Both organisations are legal entities recognized in France and Britain under appropriate legal identification.

Both organisations, in turn, form Transmanche Link (TML), the contractor organisation which has the responsibility of coordinating the work between the United Kingdom and France. During the initial phase of the project the work on each site was generally separate and distinct, and TML's organisation reflected this.

There were two Directors General, each of whom had overall responsibility for construction in his respective country. As project wide engineering issues began to develop, the Director General of Transmanche took on the task of coordinating and managing all technical matters of the Transportation System, as well as Engineering, whilst his counterpart across the Channel took charge of Commercial and Financial matters related to the total project. Because the focus of the two Directors General was closely centred on the various elements needed to startup the work on each coast, the dual organisational structure allowed the project to get off to a very fast start.

As the project evolved so did the management structure. In mid-1989, as the civil engineering work got into full swing two Managing Directors were appointed. One oversaw all construction, ensuring that it was coordinated and consistent with the project d envelopment programme. The other oversaw all technical development, transportation systems and engineering issues, including rolling stock, and was responsible for coordinating them with the overall programme requirements.

The Directors General of Transmanche became the two site Directors for Construction. As such they had legal responsibility for operating these two entities in their respective countries. They came under the supervision of the TML Managing Director for Construction.

Today two Directors General, still fulfilling their operational and legal roles, report to the single Managing Director - Operations. This further streamlining of the upper echelons of management reflects the homogenization of the work on the two sides of the Channel where, in contrast to the start of the project, the work is essentially the same with the focus on the installation of virtually identical fixed equipment and the commissioning of the system as a whole.

However, other positions to be found on TML's organisation charts during all these changes are basically those to be found in most project organisations.

Several aspects of the project were made difficult by the nature and size of the programme. The work of harmonizing the need of the Transportation System Group with those of construction is a major example. It was achieved through the creation of a number of task forces which included representatives from each of the elements of the two Managing Directors' organisations and functional directors. These task forces generally addressed specific issues or interface problems needing close attention and careful analysis. Of necessity, work on such a fast track required close coordination and many compromises.


Three other significant consideration exist in the development of the Channel Tunnel Fixed Link. They involve the Intergovernmental Commission, the British and French Railways and the banks. While the Maitre d'Oeuvre serves as one contact point with the IGC, Eurotunnel also has formal communication with the Commission as regards the submission of data for approval and, in turn, the communicating to TML of the IGC'S position on various matters.

The national railways have their own unique requirements. With through-put agreements, both the SNCF (the French national railway) and British Rail will be important customers of Eurotunnel as well as the SNCB (the Belgium National Railway) when the Fixed Link becomes operational. As such, they have certain needs and requirements which must be met. As the project moves forwards, both railways have serious and continuing concerns about commissioning and start-up issues. As they are identified, TML's planning process is shaped to accommodate them.

Lastly the banks have a continuing interest in the project. There were originally 5 agent banks, to which were added 18 instructing banks to coordinate the overall interest of all 208 banks making up the lending consortium for the debt issue. They, together with the European Investment Bank, have supported the financing of the project. The banks have a technical adviser who provides them with an overview of the development of the project. Their concerns and interests are satisfied by a number of regular reports between Eurotunnel and the technical adviser, as well as by the technical adviser's attendance at certain meetings held between Eurotunnel, the Maitre d'Oeuvre and TML. Thus the communication loop includes all interested parties.


The overall responsibility for the implementation and support of business computer systems throughout the project lies within the Management Information Services department. MIS provides computer and communications-related services to all sites within France and Britain and has a total complement of some 50 support and technical staff.

As you would expect, the overall TML computing strategy reflects the project's business needs and organisational structure. In line with TML's overall organisational structure of two separate trading entities (GIE Transmanche Construction in France and Translink Joint Venture in Britain) joined together by a central control and liaison unit (Transmanche-Link), MIS has evolved three separate but integrated computing strategies.

Although the computing needs of the two companies which are the basis of TML are very similar, the varying regulations, accounting and business practices within each country that are specific to operating a trading entity, dictate that they have their own application software systems. For historic reasons, which occurred during the rapid start-up phase of the project, this has also led to separate hardware platform strategies. However, by the very nature of the role it undertakes, the liaison office (TML) which provides overall control, reporting and coordination has implemented a comprehensive portfolio of “common” (i. e., used by both British and French operations) project control, planning and office automation systems. These common systems can be accessed from all TML sites via an overall communications network that spans both countries.


The major computer applications that support the U.K. element of the project are a finance and accounting package (supplied by CAS Project Management Ltd.) and in-house developed systems for procurement, cost reporting and commitment monitoring and budget erosion systems which were all originally implemented on Prime 50 Series computers. As part of the controlled evolution towards an open systems strategy for U.K. computing, the various modules of the CAS suite of systems have been transferred to a combination of Prime and Sequent UNIX-based processors. However, all of the above systems are fully integrated and in many cases share common files.

In addition to the above, a full range of automated labour access, control, monitoring and payroll systems have been implemented to cater to the U.K. weekly-paid workforce which at its peak totalled 5,000 operatives, spanning some 200 different shift patterns, over a seven-days-a-week, around-the-clock operation. These systems are interfaced with the relevant cost and accounting systems above.

Over the five to six years of the project to date, a massive increase in the growth and exploitation of the power of the microcomputer has occurred. In total, TML has over 1,000 microcomputers (650 in the U.K. and 400 in France), and with very few exceptions we have standardised on IBM PS/2s. Whilst these PCs are considered individual working tools, the majority are networked and MIS has maintained a short list of standard software for normal office applications such as word processing, spreadsheets and graphics packages.


As stated earlier, TMC have a similar range of software packages to meet their specific requirements. Again they are a mixture of packaged and in-house developed software. The major difference between the French computing strategy and the U.K. is that from the outset Bouygues, which is one of the five French parent companies, was able to offer a facilities management arrangement which covers the central French accounting, finance, procurement, cost control and reporting systems. The systems all run on an IBM ES9000 Model 190 mainframe computer which is housed in Bouygues' Paris headquarters and a number of the packages that are in operation, such as the GABY Accounting System, were originally developed by or for Bouygues.

Again, the MIS computing section in France provides direct support for users of the central French systems and the numerous PC systems.


TML's overall communications network covers all sites within France and the U.K. In the U. K., although managed and operated by TML, the megastream which forms the backbone of the U.K. communication network is shared with the client Eurotunnel and handles voice, facsimile and data transmissions. This network, which also caters for both IBM SNA and asynchronous DCX data traffic, won an award at the 1989 GPT-TMA Telecoms Industry Awards for “innovative use of wide band transmission products.”

In total there are well in excess of a thousand PCs, terminals, printers and other devices attached to the network. Many of TML's subcontractors are also attached to the network via permanent kilostream and dial-Up links.


TML's “common” and “central project control” systems are primarily based and processed on three networked IBM ES9000 mainframe computers. Two of these are housed in TML's head offices in Folkestone, whilst the third processor is sited in Bouygues offices in Paris and is also used to process the TMC French systems.

It is within the Common and Project Control systems area that the majority of problems that are unique to a large multi-site, multi-national project such as the Channel Tunnel manifest themselves. Apart from the obvious language and cultural differences of the personnel involved, the sheer scale, length and diverse nature of the subprojects that are required to construct a total transportation system, in addition to excavating one of the world's longest underwater tunnels, have created a demand for comprehensive and flexible coordination and control systems since day one.

Overall Network Diagram

Figure 1. Overall Network Diagram

Central Project Control and Common Systems Diagram

Figure 2. Central Project Control and Common Systems Diagram

Although the official language of the project is English, wherever necessary and to assist with achieving the overall MIS objective of introducing truly “common” systems that can be easily used by all project personnel, these systems are in both French and English.


From the start of the project, senior TML management recognised the need and benefits of having centralised systems to assist with the control and recording of the vast amount of technical documentation that will be generated and distributed throughout the life span of the project. In addition, they also recognised the commercial value of electronically recording all correspondence between TML and Eurotunnel. These systems are all processed on TML's IBM mainframe processor in Bouygues.

Technical Documentation

TML's TECDOC system controls and manages technical documents and plans that are generated by the engineering groups and subcontractors. There are currently some 95,000 registered documents and this is expected to increase by another 10,000 before the end of the project. Although the documents themselves are not electronically held within the system, each document is registered and its revisions (currently 200,000 rising to 250,000) and movements, totalling over 1,500,000, are tracked. The system also generates transmittal slips, to accompany the physical documents, when they are distributed. In addition to the many subcontractors who have direct access to the system, data is regularly transferred between TML and Eurotunnel to assist in monitoring the status of the documents that are exchanged between them.

Correspondence Registers

The central correspondence system is a combination of a number of IBM packages operating within an in-house developed utility CORRESP which controls the various interfaces. At the heart of the overall correspondence system lies STAIRS. By the end of the project this standard IBM STorage And Information Retrieval System will contain approximately 75,000 electronic copies of the formal correspondence between TML and Eurotunnel. Whilst all incoming mail is input via optical character scanning devices, a high proportion of the correspondence generated by TML is electronically transferred from the PC and mainframe standard word processing packages (IBM's DW/370 and DW4). In addition to the normal indexes, documents can also be retrieved by a combination of previously defined key words or random word search facilities.

Electronic Mail System

IBM's Professional OFfice System (PROFS) has been in use throughout the project since 1987 and it is used as the main access menu for the above project control and correspondence systems. PROFS caters to electronic mail, messages and agenda/diary management facilities. In addition, TML has also customised the package by adding a number of facilities that can be accessed from the main menu such as construction and fabrication progress information.


During the initial tunneling phase the main emphasis of the project control systems was concerned with the overall project planning, progress monitoring and cost control of the two separate construction groups. With the continuing growth and pace of the transportation system procurement and installation/commissioning phases and the completion of the main tunneling operation in 1991, the emphasis has changed to that of planning and controlling of a single Operations entity which coordinates the combined Transportation and Fixed Equipment group together with the remaining parts of the tunneling and terminal construction sub-projects.

A major event in this phase has been the implementation of the “PRINTS Procurement Information Tracking System” alongside the existing *ARTEMIS-developed project control and planning systems.

*ARTEMIS is a family of products supplied by supplied by LUCAS Management Systems Ltd. (formerly Metier Management Systems)

Both software packages were primarily chosen for their ability to satisfy the initial complex requirements of the project and to accommodate the inevitable changes in management requirements that the large Planning and Material Control functions, which they support, will generate over the period of the project. In addition, the ability of both ARTEMIS and PRINTS, which is written entirely in Information Builders FOCUS, to run on a wide range of hardware platforms is, and will be, vital to the overall success of MIS to manage the growth and eventual decline in usage of these systems. The gradual growth in processing power, in order to satisfy the increasing demand in requirements for management information and reporting, has already dictated a number of changes and upgrades to the computers. The portability of application software has also allowed MIS to take advantage of dramatic changes in the computer hardware market which are occurring, especially the decreasing cost of raw processing power on new range machines, and to consider the impact of Open Systems on their long-term (close-down) hardware strategy

Project Control and Planning Systems

The need for a computerised multi-project, multi-user project management system, with full project planning and control functionality was inevitable on a project of this size and complexity. A comprehensive project control and planning development tool was identified and implemented at an early stage of the project. As the market leader in this application area it already had a proven track record in providing network planning and high quality graphical output. In addition, it offered a high level of flexibility via its powerful in-built command language which has been used to develop TML's core project planning and control applications.

These custom-built applications have been developed to accept planning data at different levels of complexity. At the site level (Activity Level 3/4) where detailed plans are required, PC-based ARTEMIS 7000 is being utilised to cope with the large volumes of data which is broken down into distinct areas of work. These PC-based systems have been implemented to cope with the daily changes which are an integral part of the on-site operations.

Senior TML management and the client are more interested in the higher levels of planning/activity information and data. Here the emphasis is on integrating and consolidating planning and progress monitoring information on longer term management control activities. The IBM mainframe version, ARTEMIS 9000, has been used to develop these key applications which sham. common data bases.

The production of high-quality management and client reporting graphics is essential to the overall success of “Project Management.” Using ARTEMIS 9000's graphics package, TML has been able to combine high-quality graphical presentation with ease of understanding.

In addition to the main planning applications, MIS, in conjunction with the user departments' own trained planners, has developed a number of integrated cost control systems, primarily for the cost control of the Transportation Systems subcontracts.

The level of support offered by the central MIS planning group varies considerably according to the type of user and/or application. All of the central mainframe, and to a lesser extent PC-based, planning and cost control applications are “black box” systems. These standard TML applications are under the full control of MIS support staff. Of the 50-plus planners employed on the project, the vast majority use ARTEMIS (7000 or 9000) as a general planning tool and develop many of their own plans, networks and routines. MIS supports these users on an “as and when” basis, by providing a technical support service.

PRINTS - Procurement Information Tracking System

The control of fixed equipment, from materials lists to installation and commissioning, is fundamental to the success of any major construction project. From the outset, senior TML management recognised that the Channel Tunnel project is no exception to this. The logistics problems associated with the installation of permanent equipment, particularly within the tunnels which are effectively a single 40 metres wide by some 50 kilometres long site, accessible only from each end, are a major management challenge and require constant monitoring and expediting. These problems are further compounded by the fact that the existing temporary construction railway tracks have also to be replaced with permanent operating track.

After a thorough review of the available software packages, undertaken by an evaluation team comprised of Materials Control and MIS personnel, TML selected the PRINTS Procurement Information Tracking Systems, supplied by US Compliance Corporation (USCC) of Boise, Idaho, USA. In addition to licensing the software, USCC also initially provided a task force of both Materials Control personnel and application/technical (MIS) support staff which dramatically reduced the overall implementation timescales. The majority of these staff have subsequently been absorbed into TML's own Material Control and MIS departments.

The software was initially installed on a PC network at the start of September 1990 awaiting the availability of sufficient IBM mainframe computer capacity. Within three weeks the system and the data which had been entered on the temporary IAN (PC Local Area Network) was transferred to the mainframe and thereafter was operational at all TML sites. During the latter part of 1990 the various links with TML's other existing applications (e.g., project planning and control) were developed and implemented.


Although the core system has not been amended, PRINTS has been significantly tailored to meet TML's specific requirements, particularly in the management reporting.

Of the 13 basic modules and subsysterns of PRINTS that TML licensed, all were implemented and fully operational before the end of April 1991, including TML's specific enhancements.

The main function of TML's Material control group is to monitor and expedite the many subcontractors who are involved with the design, development, supply and installation of the fixed equipment. In the vast majority of cases, the Material Control group is not undertaking the procurement role themselves, but are rather inputting the subcontractors documents (e.g., bills of materials, requisitions, orders and receipts) in order to record progress, identify potential bottle necks and invoke immediate corrective action as and when necessary (i.e., expediting).

Given the critical nature of this task and the volume of the data that must be handled and processed, system (hardware and software) reliability and availability is essential. In recognition of this fact TML has entered into an agreement with Data Sciences U.K. Limited to provide a disaster recovery site for both PRINTS and project planning and control applications. Under this agreement, in the unlikely event of a major disaster which disrupts the availability of the Folkestone-based IBM mainframes, PRINTS and project planning and control applications and data will be loaded on to Data Sciences standby computers and will be available to a limited number of key users across all TML sites within twelve to twenty-four hours.

On both sides of the Channel, TML had responsibility for the design and construction of Terminals for the Fixed Link's transportation system. Both will allow the Shuttle trains to exit from the tunnels and loop around to stand at platforms facing the direction from which they have come. Provisions has also been made for intercontinental mainline trains whose passage will be slotted in between those of the Shuttle.

Although common in the financial, banking and retail industries, this type of insurance policy is fairly ram within the construction industry and is a clear indication of the commitment and reliance that TML places on its project and material controls systems.


Just about every function in the tunnels and terminals requires electrical power. The needs of the trains, for example, reaches in excess of 160 megawatts-equivalent to the peak load of a city with a population of a quarter of a million. At the other end of the scale, the trains are controlled by signalling and radio systems drawing only milliwatts. In addition, each tunnel is equipped with lighting, ventilation, cooling, smoke detection, telephones and a host of other electrically dependant equipment necessary for the safe and efficient running of the trains. A similarly wide-ranging demand for power exists at the terminals.

On the U.K. Terminal just a small part of the 250 track bi-connecting of overhead catenary required by the Channel Tunnel Fixed Link

On the U.K. Terminal just a small part of the 250 track bi-connecting of overhead catenary required by the Channel Tunnel Fixed Link.

Photography by Q.A. Photos Limited, Hythe, Kent, England

The power from the National Grids comes into the Fixed Link via two main high voltage electrical substations created by TML on the terminals. Received at 132,000 volts in the U.K. and 225,000 volts in France, it is then transformed to 25,000 volts to supply the trains, 21,000 volts to supply the terminals and tunnels. Once distributed, the 21,000 volts is further transformed to the various service voltages. Over 200 electrical rooms and substations have been installed.

A general view of a U.K. rail tunnel with the tracks awaiting the final concreting

A general view of a U.K. rail tunnel with the tracks awaiting the final concreting.

Photography by Q.A. Photos Limited, Hythe, Kent, England

Like everything fitted in the running tunnels, the power and catenary equipment had to be designed to counter aerodynamic drag while still remaining highly resistant to corrosion. Uppermost in the designers minds, however, was safety and there is an extremely high degree of redundancy, and all materials were chosen for very low combustibility and smoke emission.

The catenaries to supply the trains cover 250 single track kilometres and include 950 kilometers of overhead conductor. With a current carrying capacity of 2,500 amperes they probably have the highest rating in the world. Furthermore, nearly 15,000 supports had to be installed in the tunnels and terminals to carry the catenary and this involved handling around one million components.

The machine which embeds the tracks and sleeper blocks into concrete

The machine which embeds the tracks and sleeper blocks into concrete.

Photography by Q.A. Photos Limited, Hythe, Kent, England

The lighting system in the tunnels consists of high level lighting supported by emergency generation in the event of a total failure of both National Grids. Circuits are duplicated, too, and there are safety indicator lights using external battery back-up. In all, 20,000 light fittings have been installed in the tunnels alone.

Distributing the high, medium and low voltage power underground required 1,300 kilometres of cable and some 350 kilometres of tray-like sup ports bolted to the tunnel walls.


The Fixed Link's railway system is basically a figure eight, with shuttles leaving one terminal to cross under the Channel describing a loop at the opposite Terminal and coming to a halt atone of the platforms facing the direction from which they came. The trains rotation is changed by abridge crossing in France.

All track is standard gauge (1.435 metres) and provision has also been made for connections with the national networks of Britain and France for “through” trains. In addition, a number of stabling tracks and maintenance lines have been installed at both Folkestone and Coquelles. In all, nearly 200 kilometre of track, together with 174 points and crossings, are being laid.

In the tunnels a system designed by the United States-based Bonneville International Corporation was adopted. Non-ballasted, it is made up of pairs of precast concrete blocks set underneath the rails at 600mm centres. The blocks, of which there are nearly 334,000, rest on special resilient pads inside rubber boots which are cast into a concrete base on the floor of the tunnels.

Installation of the system involved two stages of concreting carried out by teams carried on purpose-built trains. With the stage one concrete having created a flat “floor” in the tunnels, further special trains carry in 180 metre strings of rail to which the Bonneville blocks have already been attached in the terminals. Stage two concreting fixes them in place.

The trackwork installed by TML is destined to become the busiest in the world. Some forecasts even go so far as to predict that annual gross tonnage-each way—will eventually rise to as much as 240 million tonnes. This is more than double the load imposed on any single track since railways began.


TML was responsible for an extraordinarily wide breadth of mechanical equipment in the Fixed Link ranging from machines to cut the grass in the terminals to one of the largest chilling stations in Europe.

The works was defined as linear and non-linear, with the former including 550 kilometres of pipework for the drainage, fire and cooling systems, as well as pedestrian handrail throughout the running tunnels. Between them they required over 120,000 supports.

Non-linear work ranged from anti-rabies devices and enormous ventilation fans to well over 600 bespoke (i.e., custom made) doors fitted into the tunnels for a variety of reasons. All doors had to be designed to stringent requirements of corrosion control, fire resistance and pressurisation. The most sophisticated of them are the evacuation doors in the cross passages, and the most impressive, perhaps, are those built into the walls separating the tracks in the crossovers. Power-driven they will be opened to allow trains to change tracks. Modelled on the doors used in bunkers built to protect aircraft, each pair weighs 120 tonnes, due mainly to the air pressure and fire rating requirements.

In terms of mechanical systems the most important are drainage, fire fighting, tunnel ventilation and cooling.

The two main pumps stations in the U.K. tunnels, together with a similar structure on the French side, were all fitted with four pumps designed to empty each station in just half an hour.

To combat fires there is a piped water system down the service tunnel from which the running tunnels are fed at each cross passage. At every hydrant in the system there are two connectors: one to take U.K. equipment, one for French. Water storage is at two locations at either side of the Channel, from each of which up to 140 tonnes of water an hour can be delivered into the tunnels. Even if all the pumps fail there is a big enough static head of water for the system to work. In addition, there are special devices in each cross passage to allow the creation of foam by fire fighting teams—together with fire extinguishers.

For ventilation there are the Normal Ventilation System (NVS) and the Supplementary Ventilation System (SVS) to be used in the running tunnels in times of emergency.

The NVS provides fresh air to the service tunnel by means of fans positioned at Shakespeare Cliff and Sangatte. Bulkheads, doors and air control devices in the cross passages ensure that the service tunnel is separated from the running tunnels and kept pressurised at all times.

The cooling system is made up of loops of pipes carrying water chilled at a special plant on each coast to remove any excess heat resulting from train movement in the tunnels. The plants are each equipped with what amount to four enormous refrigerators (the largest of them is equivalent to over 25,000 of the domestic variety). If the tunnels were not cooled the temperature could climb to as high as 50° centigrade.

Another task which faced the TML mechanical team was the identification, specification and installation of around a thousand pieces of maintenance equipment for all vehicles in the Fixed Link, the majority of which is for rolling stock.


Arguably the Fixed Link is both the safest and the most efficient railway system in the world. Many factors contribute to this, not least of which is the unique, TML-designed control and communications systems.

Although there are control centres in each terminal, the one in Folkestone will, in the main, be responsible for tunnels and railway operations control in all tunnels and both terminals. Coquelles will shadow its activities, being capable of taking over in times of emergency Each centre also controls train movement in the stabling and maintenance areas in its own terminal.

Fitting pipework for the cooling system in the U.K. Tunnels

Fitting pipework for the cooling system in the U.K. Tunnels.

Photography by Q.A. Photos Limited, Hythe, Kent, England

In the Folkestone Control Centre's main room, operators will sit facing a 26-metre-long representation of the Fixed Link on which is displayed data generated by several computerised systems of which the three most important are the Signaling System, the Rail Traffic Management System and the Engineering Management System.

The Rail Traffic Management System (RTM) enables operators to manage the timetable according to availability of rolling stock and staff, road traffic provisions and national railway network schedules. It also displays signal alarms, the status of signaling equipment and the whereabouts of trains and sends route commands to the separate Signaling System.

The Engineering Management System (EMS) allows the Control Room to monitor the status of the all mechanical and electrical fixed equipment. It also has a role to play in monitoring the operational status of other control and communication systems ranging from telephones, public address and radio systems to fire detection and access control.


In addition to the main mimic panel, Control Centre operators have video monitors to call up data from the various subsystems.

In separate rooms at each terminal, operators will supervise the efficient movement of vehicles with the aid of the Traffic Management System.

The Signaling System controlling the trains operates through the track, relaying instructions and data to loco drivers via video monitors in their cabs. It incorporates the very latest ideas in automatic train protection and is, by definition, fail-safe.

Building such safety features into the system has not decreased efficiency or productivity Quite the contrary in fact. Usually the higher the speed of trains the longer the headway or time between them. The unprecedented control provided by TML allows trains traveling at National Rail Network speeds to maintain the kind of headway only found until now on much slower metro systems.

TML has developed the biggest real-time data system to ever exist outside the world of space research. The EMS, for example, constantly monitors 26,000 points in the system, while the figure for the RTM is 15,000 and the applications software for the systems each contain around a quarter of a million lines of program me. Three fibre optic cables with a combined length of 238 kilometres and capable of carrying a total of 700 million bits of information every second are the conduit for information to, and instructions from the Control Centres.


Another major part of TML's remit was the creation of the purpose-built shuttle trains which will run at a maximum speed of 160 kph giving a total platform to platform journey time of around 35 minutes, of which 27 will be spent in the tunnels. With either 28 or 32 wagons, the trains will have an electric loco at both front and rear Total length of a train could be as long as 775 metres.

All rolling stock has been designed and manufactured in accordance with the European Standard for Railways (UIC Standard) except for the wagons whose structure gauge is bigger than the existing standard. In fact, these wagons are bigger than any others in the world.

The purpose-built vehicle for the Service Tunnel Transpiration System

The purpose-built vehicle for the Service Tunnel Transpiration System.

Photography by Q.A. Photos Limited, Hythe, Kent, England

Contracts for the design and construction of 38 electric locomotives, 252 tourist wagons and 273 wagons to carry heavy goods vehicles and their crews were awarded.

The locomotives have three bogies with twin independently-driven axles and an installed traction power of 5.6 MW. Their bodies are fully welded monocoque structures which were conceived by means of Computer Aided Design techniques. These allow the designer to test interactively his design for stresses and tensions by means of Finite Element analysis. The structure is divided into separate compartments by means of bulkheads. Dumb-ended, the locos have a main driving cab at the No.1 end and a secondary cab at the other.

Apart from the driver controls, the main cab includes radio equipment to enable the driver to keep in constant touch with the rail control centre and the train staff. The Chef de Train also has a desk in the main cab, although during operations he or she will be located in the trailing locomotive of the shuttle train. From this desk, train systems can be monitored and controlled and safety and operational messages communicated to the passengers.

Of the three kinds of vehicle-carrying wagons, two are referred to as tourist wagons. One is a double-decker designed to carry up to five cars on each 2-metre-high and 3.7-metre-wide deck. Loading will be from a low level platform parallel to the train onto a 28 metre long loading wagon which has two large doors on each side--one for loading the lower deck, one for the upper which is serviced by a ramp.

For coaches, mini-buses and cars with trailers or caravans there are single-deck carrying wagons. The loading/unloading wagons attached to these are basically flat and open, but with telescopic canopies which when closed, produce an enclosed wagon with a suitable aerodynamic profile.

Heavy Goods Vehicles (Has) up to a maximum weight of 44 tonnes (envisaged as being potentially permissible on European roads in the future) will be transported in economically designed open-frame carrier wagons. The space over the couplers between adjacent wagons is bridged by overlapping plates across which the HGVS, allocated one per wagon, will drive when loading or unloading. Their loading/unloading wagons are of flat-bed design with bridge plates on each side that are lowered to provide access from or to the platforms. In transit, the HGV crews will be carried in the Amenity Coach, positioned immediately behind the leading locomotive where they will able to relax in air-conditioned comfort.

JULY 1992 pm network



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