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Fifteen today - one of the seven wonders of the modern world!

It was hailed as the
project of the century...one of the seven wonders of the modern

Today the Channel Tunnel celebrates its
15th birthday.

Reporter Alan
McGuinness takes a look back at the first decade and a

At more than 30 miles long, the Channel
Tunnel has transferred a staggering 230 million people between
Britain and mainland Europe.

But it is a far cry from the opening on
May 6 1994 by the Queen and French president Francois Mitterrand -
after decades of false starts.

Sorry, this video asset has been removed.

Video: MP Paul Clarks speaks about the
Channel Tunnel - 15 years on.

The road to completion was long, arduous and very costly. The
idea of a cross channel link was first devised by Napoleon in

When the tunnel finally opened it was
80 per cent over budget and two years late. The total
cost was a staggering £4.65 billion.

Looking back, Paul Clark, Labour MP for
Gillingham and Rainham and the under-secretary at the Department
for Transport, thinks the tunnel is a ‘symbol’ of the regeneration
that has occurred in the Thames Gateway.

He said: "The two international stations we
have got in Kent is not by chance, it's by design," he

VIP Guests have passports stamped as they are the 1st people to travel through the Channel Tunnel - in 1990
VIP Guests have passports stamped as they are the 1st people to travel through the Channel Tunnel - in 1990

He added: “Obviously it [the tunnel] was quite
a thing to get used to, but many people see the great advantages
and of course they use it themselves now.”

John Keefe, a spokesman for Eurotunnel, says
the company is "proud" and "excited" at reaching the milestone.

"Here is something that was called the project
of the century, something which is now recognised one of the seven
wonders of the modern world, but which, for a long time, has been a
company labouring under a burden of huge debt,"he said.

Related articles: Stamp of
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The Channel Tunnel fire of

Mr Keefe added: "In the last couple of years all of that
financial turmoil has been swept away...And now [the company] is
coming out of that crisis towards its 15 anniversary
of operations about to pay the first dividend in its history to its
shareholders. So it really is quite a moment for us."

The Channel Tunnel from above
The Channel Tunnel from above

Both Mr
Clark and Mr Keefe agree that there is always room for

Mr Clark said: "I think the service isn’t
bad at all. I mean, there’s probably always room for improvement
because you always strive for perfection and to continually listen
to your customers as to how you can improve. So you should never be
complacent about the service you’re providing whatever you’re

"No doubt, every company can improve its
service. It’s something that we look at constantly, we’re very much
intent on making our customers journeys easier," said Mr Keefe.

Mr Clark also thinks there is plenty more to
look forward to: "There’s a great deal to look forward to in the
future in terms of the plans rolling out at Ebbsfleet on the back
of High Speed One and the Channel Tunnel. I think there’s a great
deal to look forward to there and here in the Medway towns."

Tunnel facts:

  • The first attempt toexcavate a tunnel was made back in 1880 but it was abandoned soonafter.
  • A fresh attempt was made in1974. But this was shelved a year later.
  • The on-off project finally started toget off the ground in 1988.
  • Workers finally broke throughthe channel in 1990.
  • In 1996, theAmerican Society of Civil Engineers named the Channel Tunnel asone of the 7 'Wonders of the Modern World'.
  • The trains can travel atan eye-watering 186mph.
  • The Eurostar andEurotunnel trains that run on the line are the largest in theworld.
  • If you hop on a train through thetunnel you can be in Paris in 2 hours and 15 minutes.
  • All you ever wanted to know about the tunnel...but were afraidto ask! TheOther Side

Did you know?:

  • Twomillion cars andone million trucks go throughthe tunnel every year
  • 230 million people have crossed the channel since itopened
  • Up to 400 trains a day go through the tunnel
  • That’s a train almost every three minutes

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