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European Railroad Discussion > Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago


Date: 06/11/20 09:19
Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: 86235

Can't quite believe the Channel Tunnel has been opened for a quarter of a century now, but it has and what seemed an extraordinary feat of engineering at the time is now barely remarked on, it's just taken for granted. For the first 10 years Eurostar high speed trains had to trundle from London (Waterloo International) to the channel coast along the conventional 750v DC third rail network, mixing it with the utilitarian BR third rail EMU fleet, before the first section of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (aka HS1) was opened.

1: This is one of my first pictures of a Eurostar, or class 373 in BR terms, descending from Polhill Tunnel on the former South Eastern Railway's mainline, the train is the 12:27 Waterloo to Brussels.
2: Behind the Eurostar came the 12:40 Cannon Street to Hastings, a pair of 4CEPs in Network Southeast livery. The CEPs with their four English Electric type 507 traction motors accelerated much faster than the Eurostars, albeit their maximum speed was significantly lower!
3: At Tonbridge, 30 miles south of London, there was (for historical reasons) a very sharp curve which had been eased for Eurostars but over which a 50 mph had to be observed. This Charing Cross to Hastings train is taking the platform road, the Eurostars used the two middle tracks.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/20 14:53 by 86235.








Date: 06/11/20 09:31
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: 86235

4; Eurostar wouldn't move across London from Waterloo to St Pancras until 2007, in 1995 it was still the terminus for HSTs to and from Leicester, Derby Nottingham and Sheffield. And mail trains, like this one.
5: Another Eurostar shot, outbound approaching Vauxhall on the 12:53 Waterloo to Paris with the Houses of Parliament in the background.
6: On April 2nd the South Eastern Mainline was shut for engineering works and so all trains, including Eurostar, were diverted over the London Chatham and Dover line to Ashford via Maidstone East. The Maidstone East line has something of a saw tooth profile, as can be seen here at Lenham, certainly not built for speed.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/20 14:54 by 86235.








Date: 06/11/20 10:36
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: 86235

7: As well as Eurostar the other trains through the tunnel are the ubiquitous shuttles, carrying cars and trucks between Cheriton in Kent and Frethun in France. Eurotunnel have 58 of their class 9000 single ended Bo-Bo-Bo locomotives. Today it's not easy to photograph them since this embankment is now covered in trees and bushes planted back in 1994 before the tunnel opened.
8: And this is the old order, a class 47 of Railfreight Distribution on a train of vans and steel carriers bound for the Dover train ferry. The train ferry Nord-Pas de Calais continued operating on the Dover to Dunkerque route until December 1995, when the route was formally closed. Certain types of rail traffic, which were banned from the tunnel, was lost to road transport unfortunately. The yard on the right - Dollands Moor - was where freight traffic too and from France was inspected and locomotives changed. 
9: A Eurostar sweeps across what was Continental Junction, the junction between the South Eastern mainline and Eurotunnel, a 92 and a pair of BB22200s are sitting in Dollands Moor yard. The BB22200s were used for a short while to haul freight through the tunnel until the class 92s had been passed for operation by both countries safety authorities.This location has changed out of all recognition since the completion of the first section of HS1 in 2005.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/20 10:55 by 86235.








Date: 06/11/20 10:41
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: King_Coal

Thanks for posting these. I do like those mail trains!



Date: 06/11/20 10:50
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: 86235

10: In June 1995 the 12:53 Waterloo to Paris is approaching Sandling, the last station on the conventional route, in about 400 yards the Eurostar will enter Saltwood Tunnel where the 25kV OHL begins and in just over a mile it will reach Continental Junction and leave the 750v DC network
11: On Mid-Summer's Day a very short intermodal service is leaving Dollands Moor, a single pair of flats and a single box behind TWO class 47s (although I suspect one might have been DIT). Thankfully traffic did build up to more sustainable levels until the crisis following the Hatfield disaster in 2000 and the migrant crisis the following year dealt cross channel intermodal traffic something of a fatal blow. Today traffic is down to a handful of trains a week. This was taken overlooking the eastern portal of Saltwood Tunnel.
12: Final picture and nothing to do with Channel Tunnel traffic, it's the evening London bound Dover Mail exiting Saltwood Tunnel and approaching Sandling, I took it on the same day as the previous picture, June 21st 1995.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/20 14:52 by 86235.








Date: 06/11/20 13:19
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: gaspeamtrak

Wow. It's hard to believe its been 25 years since it started running.
I missed riding these trains by about a year when I was over there in 1992 and I have never made it back since then. Hopefully things are going to change soon.:):):)



Date: 06/11/20 22:59
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: dwatry

Nick - #10 is a spectacular photo!  Love the mail train at St Pancras also. 

 



Date: 06/12/20 00:12
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: cricketer8for9

We're the first three photos on a Saturday or Sunday ie an engineering work diversion from Charing Cross? I suppose the other alternative would have been  a major engineering block at Charing Cross covering weekdays as well. And when did Cannon St to Hastings stop being 33 and start being 23?



Date: 06/12/20 02:58
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: 86235

cricketer8for9 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> We're the first three photos on a Saturday or
> Sunday ie an engineering work diversion from
> Charing Cross? I suppose the other alternative
> would have been  a major engineering block at
> Charing Cross covering weekdays as well. And when
> did Cannon St to Hastings stop being 33 and start
> being 23?

Pictures 1 and 2 were taken on a Sunday IIRC when Charing Cross was closed for engineering work, hence the use of Cannon Street. I wonder whether that headcode was wrong, as you say 33 was the correct headcode for a Cannon Street to Hastings service, 23 was Tonbridge to Hastings.



Date: 06/12/20 03:47
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: 55002

Great set of photos, Nick. I remember getting a working timetable for the route into London when the tunnel opened, showing a freight about every 45 minutes!!
So much for that. Talking of 'pie in the sky', I kept a scan of this article from Rail magazine about 2003. Another RAIL exclusive!! chris uk.




Date: 06/12/20 14:00
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: 86235

55002 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I remember getting a
> working timetable for the route into London when
> the tunnel opened, showing a freight about every
> 45 minutes!!

Ha! I suppose if Alstom had been successful in securing the 373 replacement order we might have seen double deckers but instead we've the Siemens 374s, which remind me of giant caterpillars.

I can certainly remember seeing six or seven freight trains too and from the tunnel on either Saturday or Sunday in the mid to late 1990s, it really did feel as though a new era was dawning. There were intermodal trains too and from Muizen in Belgium, Valenton yard in Paris, too and from Valencia using the variable gauge Transfesa flats (which still runs), Novara and two or three terminals around Milan. They also tried fostering traffic to Barcelona, later cut back to Perpignan, which never really caught on. But what was very noticeable then (and now) was the lack of any services too and from Germany, DB continued to funnel traffic to the UK through Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven and Hamburg rather than route it it over SNCB or SNCF to the Channel Tunnel.

Later there were also intermodal services connecting Manchester (Trafford Park) to Bari and Hams Hall to Novara. There was a weekly train of Rover cars from Birmingham to Brescia which ran on Saturdays from Birmingham to London and Sundays down to the Channel Tunnel. There was also wagonload traffic, marketed as Connectrail, between Wembley and Somain Yard in Lille, some of the trains were remarkably heavy by our standards with vans, hoppers and tank cars. This is one from November 1996



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/13/20 06:59 by 86235.




Date: 06/13/20 14:47
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: cricketer8for9

>
> Pictures 1 and 2 were taken on a Sunday IIRC when
> Charing Cross was closed for engineering work,
> hence the use of Cannon Street. I wonder whether
> that headcode was wrong, as you say 33 was the
> correct headcode for a Cannon Street to Hastings
> service, 23 was Tonbridge to Hastings.


Thanks. I seem to recall that most of the DEMU London headcodes were double numbers, eg 66 and 77 for East Grinstead and 88 and 99 for Uckfield. And wasn't 11 Brighton to Exeter? 



Date: 06/13/20 15:04
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: 86235

cricketer8for9 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks. I seem to recall that most of the DEMU
> London headcodes were double numbers, eg 66 and 77
> for East Grinstead and 88 and 99 for Uckfield. And
> wasn't 11 Brighton to Exeter? 
Yes, the diesel codes were all double numbers, with the exception of Ashford to Hastings (20).



Date: 06/13/20 23:09
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: cricketer8for9

And Tonbridge to Eridge which I think was 31.



Date: 06/14/20 03:30
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: 55002

Thanks for the 47 photo, Nick I always thought the Railfreight Distribution 47s looked very nice. A shame it was all short lived. chris uk




Date: 06/14/20 08:58
Re: Trains too and from the Channel Tunnel, 25 years ago
Author: 86235

Yes the RfD 47s did look smart, I think this is my favourite shot of one, at Lenham on the Transfesa in Feb 1997 and out by itself, which was quite unusual. They usually hunted in pairs, for insurance purposes.




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