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MODERN ENGINEERING MARVEL #3
  • The Chunnel

    Bailong Elevator

    Beginning construction in 1988, the Channel Tunnel, also known as the Chunnel, took six years to complete. The 31.4 mile underwater rail tunnel links the United Kingdom with France. 250 ft deep at its lowest point, the tunnel has the longest underwater portion (23.5 miles) of any tunnel in the world. With train speeds reaching 100 mph, Eurostar train riders can travel between the two countries in 20 minutes.

    Three tubes comprise the Chunnel -- two full-size tubes for rail traffic and one small tube in between for emergency access. Concerned with the possibility of fires, engineers included the emergency exit route. It is good they did. The emergency tunnel has been put to the test by three major fires.

    As new technologies develop, some engineers would like to build a transatlantic tunnel connecting New York with London. Their vision includes a 3,100-mile tunnel that could house a train traveling 5,000 miles per hour. A trip that now takes seven hours by plane could could be reduced to less than one hour! I hope they plan well. The Chunnel came in at 80% over its predicted budget.

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