The 31.4-mile Channel Tunnel connecting Britain and France underneath the English Channel is truly one of the wonders of the modern world. However, the undersea link’s primary purpose is to make travel across the Channel more convenient, not to strand travelers beneath the seabed. Yesterday, drivers using the tunnel’s rail shuttle service ended up stranded in the underwater tunnel for five hours, BBC reports.
Hundreds of passengers were stranded when a train broke down in the Britain-bound tunnel on Tuesday afternoon. The stopped train was the 3:50 p.m. Eurotunnel Le Shuttle service from Calais, France to Folkestone, England. Le Shuttle is a service operated by Eurotunnel that allows passengers to drive their vehicles onto the train to be ferried across the Channel via the tunnel. On Tuesday, that service encountered a problem that stalled it midway through the tunnel for hours.
A Eurotunnel spokesperson told the BBC:
“The Shuttle was brought to a controlled stop and inspected. As a precautionary measure, for their safety and comfort, we transferred the passengers on-board to another shuttle, via the service tunnel [which is there for exactly that purpose]. We brought them to the passenger terminal building, where food and drinks were available.”
For context, the Channel Tunnel is actually a set of three tunnels: Two single-track train tunnels running parallel to each other, with a smaller service tunnel in between them. The passengers on the stuck train were evacuated into the central service tunnel.
It took Eurotunnel five hours to get the stranded passengers out of the Channel Tunnel. Many passengers posted images and videos of their stressful ordeal on social media as they waited for answers. Reportedly, staff tried to repair the impacted train inside the tunnel before changing tactics, sending in another shuttle to evacuate the stranded passengers. Eventually, the disabled train was able to make it to the English side of the tunnel.