The Channel Tunnel is 20 years old this year, so to entertain you while I’m away, I’ve gathered a few related randoms for you:

1. Did you know that the American Society of Civil Engineers voted the Channel Tunnel one of the 7 wonders of the modern world?  It joins, among others, the Empire State Building, the Panama Canal and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Who knew a hole in the ground could be so appealing?

2. With trains 830m long (that’s over half a mile to the non-metric) they are the the longest in Europe, and pulled by the most powerful locomotives in the world.  Wouldn’t want to be racing one of them to a level crossing then…

3. The idea of a Channel Tunnel first came about at the start of the 19th century, when Napoleon thought it would be a really cool idea to invade Britain, but even though they had a go in the 1880s and got 1/2 mile under Kent, it took them a while longer to come up with a rather smarter tool for digging the thing.  Alas, they didn’t have a genius way of getting them all out, so 2 are still buried down there:

4. 85% of the car owners passing through the tunnel are British, with only 6% being French.  Either we have more of a sense of adventure, or they’ve seen the mass car park that a lot of our motorways turn into…

5. Despite the fact that the engineers drawing the diagrams for the tunnel had an Apple Mac at their disposal, they actually opted to draw the entire thing by hand, first in pencil, and then once that was approved, by pen.  The pens they had to use to get all the different effects were apparently a complete nightmare to use, as they were prone to running out of ink at just the wrong point.  Alas, Adobe’s first version of Illustrator only arrived the year after they started, in 1988.

And as a bonus random fact, we got stuck in it once, in a snow storm…

Joining my fellow Randomeers:

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