Science

The English Channel

Great Britain was a defensive fortress due to its isolation. The canal between Great Britain and France was one important place in history due to its connection of two powerful European nations. The idea to create a way to cross the channel by land arose in many minds. The ideas were very diverse: build a small island to connect bridges, or build a large tube under the water suspended by floating platforms. However, the most significant idea was the creation of the largest tunnel at the time; a tunnel that would go underwater to connect both countries through railroads.

Many problems arise due to the creation of the tunnel. Britain was afraid of a French invasion. The possible attack by planes made this idea insignificant. Then, the government didn’t want to spend such a large amount of money for the creation of the project. Therefore the tunnel was built by private companies from Britain and France. 

The construction began in 1988, one hundred years later. The companies spent what is today’s equivalent to 14 billion pounds. It was very similar to the construction of the transcontinental railroad of the U.S. Both were enormous projects set to bring transportation and connection between two isolated regions. Both were built by private companies that started the construction on both ends and met in the middle of the path.

The design consisted of three separate tunnels. Two of them for trains from France and Britain and another in the middle for maintenance. Air ducks, emergency passages, and crossover chambers were built along the tunnels. Tunnel boring machines from both sides made the construction possible. To not lose track and meet in the exact position, the companies used satellite positioning and paleontologists who checked the fossils to ensure that they were in the right depth. 

The project employed 13,000 people and cost the lives of 10 workers. After much work, the channel finally opened in 1994. Today, the channel transports 20 million passengers a year. The railroad crosses the channel in 35 minutes. It is now one of the most important projects of transportation in Europe.

Pablo Penaloza

My name is Pablo Peñalosa. I am a junior who loves basketball. I am from Tarija. My favorite food is seafood. A word that would describe me would be persistent.

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