05/06/2014 Her Majesty the Queen unveils plaque to celebrate 20th anniversary of channel tunnel opening and launch of international rail services

5 Jun 2014

On Thursday 5 June 2014, Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, unveiled a plaque at St Pancras International station to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Channel Tunnel and the launch of international high speed rail services between the UK and mainland Europe.

The unveiling of the plaque preceded the State Visit of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to France from 5 to 7 June at the invitation of the President of France, François Hollande. As part of the State Visit, Her Majesty and His Royal Highness will attend events in Paris and in Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings and will be received at the Élysée Palace by President Hollande.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were welcomed at St Pancras International station by Rob Holden, Chairman, HS1, Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive, Groupe Eurotunnel and Clare Hollingsworth, Chairman, Eurostar. William Hague, the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Harlem Désir, France's Secretary of State for European Affairs and Bernard Emié, French Ambassador to the UK, also took part in the ceremony.

Since the opening of the Channel Tunnel, more than 65 million vehicles and 330 million passengers have travelled on services through the Tunnel. This ground-breaking project heralded the start of a new era of collaboration and innovation and has transformed links between the UK and the Continent.

Jacques Gounon, Groupe Eurotunnel Chairman and Chief Executive, said:

"The opening of the Channel Tunnel twenty years ago heralded a new era in international travel and trade between the UK and continental Europe. Today 65 million vehicles and 330 million people have already travelled through the Tunnel, bringing substantial economic benefits to the UK and Europe. But for us, the first twenty years have been just the opening chapter. There is a great deal more potential for high speed passenger and rail freight services to develop in the future".

Clare Hollingsworth, Chairman, Eurostar, said:

"The launch of Eurostar services between the UK and mainland Europe represented a historic milestone revolutionising rail travel on both sides of the Channel. Over the last twenty years we have carried over 145 million passengers as high speed rail increasingly becomes the preferred option for short haul journeys.

"With the advent of a new state-of-the art fleet of trains and a range of new routes, we are looking forward to extending our reach and cementing further the relationship between the UK and continental Europe."

Rob Holden, Chairman, HS1 Ltd, owners of St Pancras and High Speed 1, said:

"We were delighted to welcome The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to St Pancras International today. Since Eurostar began running international high speed rail services between the UK and continental Europe, we have seen a complete step change in rail travel - and, indeed, international travel - in the UK. We work closely with both Eurostar and Eurotunnel and it's this partnership approach which has ultimately benefited our customers."

Following the unveiling ceremony, the commemorative plaque will be displayed in the international services check-in area of St Pancras International station.

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Notes to editors

 

About Eurotunnel:

1. Eurotunnel is the concession holder for the Channel Tunnel until 2086. Eurotunnel operates the integrated Freight and Passenger Shuttle services between Folkestone, Kent and Coquelles, Nord-Pas-de-Calais. Eurotunnel also grants passage to trains from other railway undertakings providing international railway freight and high speed passenger services through the Channel Tunnel.
2. Eurotunnel is a privately financed company listed on the Paris and London stock exchanges.
3. In the 20 years since opening Eurotunnel has carried more than 10 million trucks, 20 million cars and 330 million people through the Channel Tunnel.
4. Eurotunnel also owns the railway freight operators Europorte, in France and GB Railfreight, in the UK and is a partner in the ElecLink joint venture to run a 1000MW electrical interconnector through the Channel Tunnel to link the British and French national grids.

 

About Eurostar

1. Eurostar is the high-speed train service linking St Pancras International, Ebbsfleet International, Ashford International, Paris, Brussels, Lille, Calais, Disneyland® Paris, Avignon and the French and Swiss Alps.
2. Eurostar was established in 1994 as a partnership between three railway companies: SNCF, SNCB and LCR (London and Continental Railways). On 1 September 2010, Eurostar became a single, unified corporate entity owned by three shareholders: SNCF, SNCB and LCR.
3. The current Eurostar train was first introduced into service in 1994 carrying 750 passengers and operating at speeds of up to 300kph. Since then, the fleet of 28 trains has carried over 145 million passengers between London and mainland Europe. Following their refurbishment these trains will continue to form a core part of the Eurostar fleet. The new Eurostar e320 train will carry more than 900 passengers at speeds of up to 320kph.
4. Eurostar is a founder member of Railteam, a partnership between Europe's leading high-speed train operators that is developing simpler ways to book and travel on the fast-expanding European high-speed rail network.

 

About HS1:

HS1 Ltd holds the 30-year concession from government to operate, manage and maintain the high-speed railway infrastructure which runs between London and the Channel Tunnel and connects with Brussels and Paris. This includes the four stations along the route, with St Pancras International as the London terminus.

 

Enquiries about The Queen or the State Visit should be directed towards Buckingham Palace:

Laura King

Senior Press Officer

t: 00 44 (0) 20 7024 4353

e: laura.king@royal.gsx.gov.uk

 

For further information please contact:

 

Groupe Eurotunnel Press Office

t: 00 44 (0) 1303 28 44 91

e : press@eurotunnel.com

 

Eurostar Press Office

t: 00 44 (0) 20 7843 5500

e: press.office@eurostar.com

 

HS1 Press Office

t : 00 44 (0) 20 3327 4050

e : HS1@pagefield.co.uk