Tun­nel links UK and Europe

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Con­struc­tion work­ers have drilled through the fi­nal wall of rock to join the two halves of the Chan­nel Tun­nel and link Bri­tain to France.

The mo­men­tous break­through links the UK to Europe for the first time since the Ice Age, about 8,000 years ago.

To a throng of cheers, con­struc­tion work­ers cel­e­brated with cham­pagne - the only time al­co­hol has been al­lowed un­der­ground on the work site.

French worker, Philippe Cozette, and his Bri­tish coun­ter­part, Gra­ham Fagg, waved flags and shook hands as the first men able to walk be­tween the two coun­tries.

Pass­ports stamped

Only mo­ments ear­lier at 1100 GMT, a half-me­tre wall of rock sep­a­rated Bri­tain from main­land Europe.

The men con­tin­ued drilling un­til a hole was cre­ated big enough to al­low ve­hi­cles through.

The first Bri­tons walked through the tun­nel to have their pass­ports stamped in France.

There were sim­i­lar scenes on the other side as a French party which drove into Folke­stone, Kent, headed straight over to cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers.

Trib­utes

Trans­port sec­re­tary Mal­colm Rifkind was among the first through.

Speak­ing to the BBC, he said: “The phys­i­cal con­tact that has been achieved be­tween Bri­tain and France to­day is symp­to­matic of many changes that we have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in the last 20 years.

“It is all hap­pen­ing and it is con­tin­u­ing to hap­pen at an ac­cel­er­at­ing pace.”

Down­ing Street called the event a “trib­ute to pri­vate en­ter­prise”.

The Chan­nel Tun­nel ven­ture is ex­pected to lead to the con­struc­tion of a high speed train link across Kent, to match one France has al­ready built.

Work on the Chan­nel Tun­nel be­gan in 1986 and it is due to be com­pleted by 1993.

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