Freight News

Electric fault caused Channel Tunnel fire

[ March 12, 2015   //   ]

An electric arc between the overhead power line and a freight shuttle train was the cause of the fire that closed the Channel Tunnel for several days from 17 January, according to an investigation. The probe, which is being led by the French Bureau d’Enquetes sur les Accidents de Transport Terrestre (BEA-TT), found that the shuttle had already entered the last SAFE station which is fitted with a water mist system designed to control a fire on a stationary train. Without electrical power, the driver of the shuttle had to make a controlled stop in the tunnel. Two trucks on the shuttle were totally destroyed and there was also damage to rolling stock, railway infrastructure and the tunnel lining.

Earlier, Rail Freight Group chairman Tony Berkeley wrote to the Channel Tunnel Inter Governmental Commission asking them to review the design of the open lorry shuttle trains, following the fire.

Previous fires had led to the tunnel being partly closed for several months while damage was repaired.

Planned mitigating measures to prevent the fire from causing damage or closures had not been successful in preventing long periods of full or part closure, he said.

Berkeley added that the design of the lorry shuttles also caused other problems as the result of the further problems as the catenary (overhead power lines) in the tunnel is being damaged by turbulence.