• How the Channel Tunnel changed Europe forever

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by David Benton
I don't think the Grand Central ever planned a Channel Tunnel, or even boat connections,( the tunnel is was referring to was the Woodhead Tunnel).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Central_Railway" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Perhaps the reason for selecting the Continental loading gauge was they simply saw the British gauge as too restrictive.
Have to admit though, I've only read a few articles on it , most to do with the possibility of reopening parts of it . I didn't actually realise the route was a seperate railway company till Sam Mentioned it .
  by johnthefireman
Yes, I think David is right about the Woodhead Tunnel. My understanding is that at the time of nationalisation in 1948 there were five routes across the Pennines. Dr Beeching determined that only one would be necessary, and perhaps a second as a spare in case of disruption to the first, so three, including Woodhead, were closed. Now there is a shortage of capacity and it would be great to see Woodhead re-opened, but it is currently used for high voltage cables as part of the national electricity grid and it would need expensive infrastructural work to re-open it. I also undertsand that the Woodhead line was electrified from a very early stage (perhaps from the outset?).
  by Semaphore Sam
Sir Edward Watkin organized the GC. See the Wikapedia entry concerning his plans:

"For Watkin, opening an independent route to London was crucial for the long-term survival and development of the MS&LR, but it was also one part of a grander scheme: a line from Manchester to Paris.[1] His chairmanships of the South Eastern Railway, the Metropolitan Railway,[1] in addition to the MS&LR meant that he controlled railways from England's south coast ports, through London and (with the London Extension) through the Midlands to the industrial cities of the North; he was also on the board of the Chemin de Fer du Nord, a French railway company based in Calais. Watkin's ambitious plan was to develop a railway network which could run passenger trains directly from Liverpool and Manchester to Paris, crossing from Britain to France via a tunnel under the English Channel.[5] As well as a high-speed specification, the Great Central Main Line was also built to an expanded continental loading gauge; unlike any other railway lines in Britain, Watkin's line would be able to accommodate larger-sized continental trains crossing from France.[6]

Watkin started his tunnel works with the South Eastern Railway in 1880–81. Digging began at Shakespeare Cliff between Folkestone and Dover and reached a length of 2,020 yards (1,850 m). The project was highly controversial and fears grew of the tunnel being used as a route for a possible French invasion of Great Britain; notable opponents of the project were the War Office Scientific Committee, Lord Wolseley and Prince George, Duke of Cambridge;[7] Queen Victoria reportedly found the tunnel scheme "objectionable". Watkin was skilled at public relations and attempted to garner political support for his project, inviting such high-profile guests as the Prince and Princess of Wales, Liberal Party Leader William Gladstone and the Archbishop of Canterbury to submarine champagne receptions in the tunnel.[8] In spite of his attempts at winning support, his tunnel project was blocked by parliament and cancelled in the interests of national security. The original entrance to Watkin's tunnel works remains in the cliff face but is now closed for safety reasons." Sam