Kent

Eurotunnel told to improve safety after fire

Channel Tunnel fire damage
Image caption Eurotunnel said people were brought out safely but the infrastructure was damaged

Improvements to Eurotunnel's safety management and how the rail firm deals with emergencies have been recommended in a report after a fire two years ago.

More than 100 firefighters took over 15 hours to put out the blaze on a freight train about 11km (7 miles) from Calais.

Twenty-nine passengers were led to safety in September 2008.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch report made 39 recommendations to the rail firm, but Eurotunnel said it had already made changes.

People stranded

John Keefe, head of communications for Eurotunnel, said: "When you have an incident like this in the tunnel, you want to move your safety forward as quickly as you can and we've already made that move."

He said a fire on a truck in the Channel Tunnel spread to other lorries and caused a great deal of damage, but people on board the train were brought out safely.

"Our people safety record stands very firmly," he added.

But he said: "Where we have had some difficulty has been in maintaining the integrity of the infrastructure.

Image caption A fire on a truck spread to other lorries and caused a great deal of damage

"What we've done since 2008 is implement a whole new regime which goes far beyond what's discussed in this particular report."

He said fixed stations had been put in the tunnel where high pressure water mists could be used put out fires on trains without bringing the train out of the tunnel and without taking firefighters in.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch report said recommendations made to Eurotunnel covered areas including the evacuation of freight trains, firefighting facilities, changes to rolling stock, modifications to equipment and changes to the telecommunications network.

On the day of the fire, a freight train left Folkestone at 1436 BST carrying 25 lorries and two vans, but a fire broke out about 18 minutes into the journey.

Passengers were led to safety and taken to France. Firefighting started about an hour after the train stopped and continued until about 1100 BST the next day.

The incident led to trains being suspended and thousands of passengers were left stranded.

The French authorities are still carrying out a judicial investigation into the cause of the fire.

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