Early projects 1802
In 1802, French mining engineer Albert Mathieu-Favier put forward the first ever design for a cross-Channel fixed link based on the principle of a bored two-level tunnel: the top one, paved and lit by oil lamps, to be used by horse-drawn stagecoaches ; the bottom one would be used for groundwater flows.
In 1803, the Englishman Henry Mottray unveils another project for a cross-Channel fixed link: a submerged tunnel made of prefabricated iron sections.
From 1830, the advent of steam trains and the construction of the rail network in Britain led to the first proposals for a rail tunnel. By the mid 19th century, French mining engineer, Aimé Thomé de Gamond, spent 30 years working on seven different designs.
25 August During the state visit to France in Versailles, Queen Victoria and Napoléon III approve the proposed under sea tunnel designed by Thomé de Gamond, which was later on presented in the Exposition Universelle of Paris in 1867.
The first attempt of a tunnel excavation began in 1880 when the « Beaumont & English » tunnel boring machine began digging undersea on both sides of the Channel.
25 July Louis Blériot was the first to fly an aeroplane across the Strait of Dover and in 37 minutes.
February Harold Macmillan, British Defence Minister, announced that he no longer opposed a fixed link on military ground.
26 July Louis Armand formed the Channel Tunnel Study Group (GETM).
July The Channel Tunnel Study Group presents to the governments a proposal of railway tunnel, bored of submerged, comprising a twin rail tunnel with a service tunnel.
17 November The project of the construction and the operations of a railway tunnel under the Channel is finally launched in 1973 at Chequers by Edward Heath, British Prime Minister, and Georges Pompidou, French President, when a Franco-British Channel Tunnel Treaty was signed.
20 January Harold Wilson, British Minister, announced that the project is stopped and withdrawn for financial reasons and in particular due to the oil crisis.
30 November The British and French Governments reached an agreement on a consultation process with private promoters for the construction and operation of a cross-Channel fixed link, without public funding.
2 April The British and French governments issued an Invitation to submit schemes.
The Eurotunnel Project 1985
On 31 October, four proposals corresponding to the specifications are received for consideration by the Franco-British assessment Committee. The Eurotunnel project A proposal based on the 1972-1975 scheme: 2 one-way rail tunnels for Shuttle trains (carrying cars and trucks) and high speed trains, with a third service tunnel connected at regular intervals to the main tunnels. The 3 other proposals include the following projects: Eurobridge (a suspension bridge – see image), Euroroute (a set of artificial islands, bridges and a tunnel) and Channel Expressway (rail and road tunnels).
20 January Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand announced in Lille that the Eurotunnel bid presented by a Franco-British Consortium « France Manche-Channel Tunnel Group » has been selected. 12 February In the Canterbury cathedral and in the presence of the British Prime Minister and the French President, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of both countries signed the Franco-British Treaty of Canterbury, which prepared the Concession for the construction and operation of a cross-Channel Fixed Link by private companies. This Treaty set up the Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) responsible for monitoring all matters associated with the construction and operation of the Tunnel on behalf of both governments, together with a Safety Authority to advise the IGC.
14 March The Concession Agreement for the construction, the financing and operation of the Channel Tunnel was awarded to the Franco-British...