The Anonymous Widower

Channel Islands To France Tunnel Would ‘Cost £5.6bn’

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Construction News.

The tunnel would be built as follows.

  • Phase One would be a 28 km. rail tunnel between Jersey and Guernsey.
  • Phase Two would be a 32 km rail tunnel between Jersey and Normandy.
  • Both journey times would be around fifteen minutes.
  • The tunnels would take ten years to build.
  • It is claimed they would double the GDP of the islands in a decade.
  • The Governments of Guernsey and Jersey are supporting the idea.

One factor driving the idea, seems to be the ageing population of the Channel Islands, which means they will need a commuting population to provide services.

There is also an article on the Jersey Evening Post, which is entitled Jersey-Guernsey-France Tunnel Proposed, that gives a few more details of the proposals.

  • The tunnel will start in St Sampson’s in Guernsey and travel under Herm and Sark.
  • An artificial island would also be built between Sark and Jersey which could house a combined Channel Island’s airport, hospital, prison and university.

These are a few of my thoughts.

The Route

This Google Map shows the Channel Islands.

Note.

  1. Herm is shown by the red arrow.
  2. Sark is llabelled as La Rade.
  3. The coast of the Cherbourg Peninsular is shown in the East.

From this map it appears that the distance of the two phases of construction would be similar.

Operating Speed

Both tunnels are proposed to be around twenty miles in length, so if the journey time is fifteen minutes, that means an average speed of eighty mph.

For comparison, the Channel Tunnel is just over thirty miles long and has a safety speed limit of 99 mph.

So it would appear that with good design, the timings are possible.

I also think that we could see speeds like these.

  • 200 kph (125 mph) on the surface in France.
  • At least 100 mph between France and Jersey.
  • 80 mph between Jersey and Guernsey, where there are three stops.

Timings of sub-forty-five minutes would be possible.

Single Or Double Track

I feel it would be possible to build each phase of the railway as a single-track tunnel, both of which would be paired with a service tunnel. There would be a double-track section in Jersey, so that trains could pass.

This would allow a four trains per hour (tph) service between Guernsey and France, with the services passing under Jersey.

This frequency would be a Turn-Up-And-Go service.

The article doesn’t say, whether a single or double track tunnel would be built.

As the tunnel would only be built once and probably never increased in capacity, the design must be right first time.

Tunnel Loading Gauge

Would the tunnel be built to take UK-sized trains or the bigger Continental-sized trains?

Consider.

  • The trains will probably terminate on the French side in a station.
  • The larger the tunnel, the more costly it would be to bore.
  • The tunnel would have to incorporate electrification.

I feel that the size of the tunnel will end up as a compromise between cost, convenience and compatibility with French railway standards.

Freight

Consider.

  • If the tunnel was the right diameter some freight could be transferred through the tunnel.
  • Parcels and smaller freight could also be carried on a shuttle train based on a passenger train.
  • A larger tunnel would increase the cost.
  • If freight were to be carried on the railway, then a freight terminal would be needed on the surface on Jersey and Guernsey where space is at a premium.
  • As less passengers would be using the ferries, this might mean money invested in new ferries between the islands and France and the UK for freight and road vehicles, would give a better return.

I think on balance, that building the rail link, so that it could handle freight trains, other than perhaps a parcel shuttle would not be a viable idea.

Rail Link Power Supply

I think there are two possible power sources for the trains on the rail link; electrification or battery.

Electrification would certainly be possible and would probably use the French (and UK!) system of 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

As it is a tunnel, an overhead rail would probably be used as on Crossrail and other similar railways.

|As a battery range of eighty files would be needed for a round trip and hundred percent reliability would be desirable, I think it would be unlikely, that batteries would be the primary source of power.

But batteries could be fitted to handle regenerative braking and provide a back-up power source.

Connection To French Railways

The nearest French railway is the main Cherbourg and Paris railway, which is electrified using 25 KVAC overhead.

It would seem sensible to allow trains from the Channel Islands to terminate at Cherbourg.

  • It is a municipality of 80,000 people.
  • It is a major port.
  • It has a station with what looks to be a large capacity.
  • It has a rail service to Paris, where passengers can change for London.
  • There is probably space in Cherbourg station to incorporate a platform with passenger, freight and Immigration and Customs facilities.
  • Trains could probably run between Cherbourg and the Channel Islands Rail Link in less than thirty minutes.
  • France plans to start a TGV service between Paris and Cherbourg, which would have connections to Eurostar.
  • Cherbourg would probably be an ideal place for a depot.

It looks like that about thirty kilometres of new railway would be needed to connect the Channel Island tunnel to the Paris and Cherbourg Line.

Rail Link Signalling

As the trains would be running in France, the whole route would be signalled to the French standards, that are used on any shared track.

The Artificial Island

Consider.

  • The artificial island would contain an airport, a hospital, a prison a university and possibly other important facilities.
  • It would release land on Jersey and Guernsey for development.
  • It is not far from halfway between Guernsey and France.

I like this concept and I also think, that it could ease the construction of the railway.

A fair-sized site will be needed to insert the tunnel boring machines and deal with the spoil they bring to the surface.

I believe that using modern construction techniques, that creating the perimeter of the artificial island first and then boring the tunnels from the new land would be possible.

Tunnel spoil could be used to build up the island or taken away by ship for use elsewhere.

Electricity For The Channel Islands

Much of the electricity for the Channel Islands is produced by La Collette Power Station on Jersey, which is powered by fossil fuel and waste.

If as I believe the rail link would be built with a service tunnel, then would it not be better to import zero-carbon energy from France and distribute it to other islands, using an interconnector cable in the service tunnel?

My electrical engineering is basic from over fifty years ago, but I suspect that if the rail link used 25 KVAC overhead electrification, that the electrification could be used to supply the islands with power.

Hospital Access

There is no point in building a world-class hospital on the artificial island, if patients die because they take too long to get there.

Seriously-ill patients will take forever, if they have to go in an ambulance by ferry and although a helicopter is quick, these are too expensive, especially if you have to keep enough on standby to handle every eventuality.

But the artificial island is less than fifteen minutes from Jersey and Guernsey by train. As trains could be fifteen minutes apart, that means a patient could always be in hospital thirty minutes after being picked up.

But it would need the following.

  • A mini-A & E unit in all four stations, where patients could be triaged and admitted or treated, after being brought in by ambulance.
  • The ability to take a hospital trolley on all trains.
  • The ability to take a patient in a wheelchair on all trains.

I am pretty sure, that an efficient system can be devised.

The Stations

All the stations would be underground, including the terminal at St Sampson’s station on Guernsey.

  • Surface access would be by lifts, escalators and stairs.
  • Platform-edge doors would be fitted.
  • Al stations would be able to handle a hospital trolley.
  • Guernsey, Artificial Island and Jersey would probably have two platforms.
  • Other stations would probably only need a single bi-directional platform.
  • I doubt there would be a second station other than Cherbourg in France, as this would require Customs and Immigration.

I would also make the platforms long.

  • Crossrail’s platforms are over two hundred metres long and even London’s suburban platforms are often this length.
  • They could have separate sections for passengers and freight.
  • They would be difficult to extend in the future, so make them long enough for any possible future needs.

This would enable capacity increases to be made by just lengthening the trains.

The Trains

I have left the trains to last, as I wanted to lay out everything else first, so anything effecting the train design will have been covered.

  • An operating speed of 125 mph or 200 kph would be desirable to make maximum use of the infrastructure, especial in France.
  • The ability to run a round trip between Cherbourg and Guernsey in under two hours.
  • Trains could be either separate passenger and light freight versions or a combi version that could handle both passengers and light freight.
  • Trains could be built to a lower height than a typical French train, to allow for a smaller and more affordable tunnel to be bored.
  • A long-reach pantograph would be used to reach the higher French electrification.
  • All access between train and platform would be level for bags, bikes, buggies and wheelchairs.
  • All passenger trains must have the ability to take a hospital trolley, so urgent patients can be rushed to hospital.

My design would be based on a train like a Stadler Flirt, Bombadier Aventra or Siemens Desiro, built to a UK-loading gauge.

  • The train would have an ambulance car in the middle to get the best ride quality.
  • On one side of the ambulance car would be a passenger section and on the other side would be a light freight or parcel section.
  • Trains and stations would be designed together to minimise loading and unloading times.

I’m certain Stadler could build a version of the Class 745 train, that would fit the application.

TGVs To Cherbourg

The French have plans to run TGVs to Cherbourg, which will link up with Eurostar in Paris.

This will improve journey times to Cherbourg and then to the islands, if the Channel Islands rail link terminates in Cherbourg.

But I doubt TGVs would ever run to the Channel Islands.

  • It would need large tunnels that would cost a lot more.
  • TGVs would have to be designed to work with platform-edge doors.
  • It would be difficult to schedule four or more Channel Islands Rail Link trains per hour and the occasionally TGV through the tunnels.
  • Two tunnels would probably be needed.
  • TGVs are large trains and could need longer platforms in Jersey and Guernsey and other places they call.
  • TGVs would take several minutes to rurn round in Guernsey, whereas the Channel Islands Rail Link trains would turn in under five minutes.

There would probably only be a need for a couple of trains per day and a frequent shuttle to Cherbourg would give a much more customer-friendly service. Especially if the TGV service between Paris and Cherbourg was an hourly service.

Electric Airliners

A large proportion of the flights from Jersey and Guernsey airports would be suitable for electric airliners, which I’m certain will be flying before the earliest date the new combined Channel Islands Airport opened.

This would mean that to get to the Channel Islands from say Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Geneva, London or Rotterdam can be done faster in a zero-carbon electric airliner.

The Channel Islands could provide the necessary infrastructure for electric airliners and say all airlines must use them for services to the new airport.

What would it do for Channel Islands tourism to have the world’s first zero-carbon airport?

Surely, with the  Channel Islands Rail Link, the airport could be the preferred one for passengers in the area, wanting to travel to the UK and Ireland.

 

What’s In It For The French?

France will be a beneficiary of the project.

  • The French build tunnel boring machines.
  • The Channel Tunnel Rail Link will create job opportunities in the Cherbourg area.
  • If economic activity increases around Cherbourg, the case for the TGV to Cherbourg gets better.
  • The French get a new modern airport for the Cherbourg area.
  • The French could get an increased market for their nuclear electricity.

I can see the French liking this project.

Conclusion

I think the Channel Tunnel Rail Link is a good idea and could transform the economy of the Channel Islands.

It will also be good for the surrounding area of France.

 

 

February 6, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. Was going to comment on the post about the Goblin derailment but just get “page not found errors” when I click on comment.

    Comment by mauricegreed | February 6, 2020 | Reply

  2. Given the tunnels would link Channel Islands to France surely continental gauge would be used to allow through running of TGV trains .

    Comment by Melvyn | February 6, 2020 | Reply

    • Paris to Cherbourg is not a high speed line, although the French have plans to run TGVs to Cherbourg, which would also connect to Eurostar at Paris.
      But to run TGVs to Guernsey would require very much larger tunnels that would cost a lot more.
      There would also be the Customs and Immigration problem, which is solved by having a separate facility at Cherbourg.
      This line is also a Guernsey – Jersey – Cherbourg Metro for all the local journeys and workers the islands need. I doubt mixing a TGV stopping at selected stations on a line with six stops would be easy to operate.

      I doubt that the islands would need more than one TGV per day, given the passengers they carry.

      Comment by AnonW | February 7, 2020 | Reply

  3. Who’d pay for the tunnels and where would they terminate? I know there’s a lot of wealth on the islands but I wonder if there is any enthusiasm for the scheme?

    Comment by mauricegreed | February 6, 2020 | Reply

    • I think the plan for hospital, airport, prison, university and perhaps other facilities means that the islands would be financially supportive. The main tunnels and the link to France should mean that one of the private infrastructure groups would find it a good investment.

      As you can see, I now feel.it should terminate at Cherbourg.

      Comment by AnonW | February 7, 2020 | Reply

  4. Smaller tunnels and trains would allow quite a lot of freight, especially if the train sizes were made compatible with small/midsize airfreight standard pallets/containers. This would allow quick mechanised loading/unloading and give some flexibility in location of freight yard away from the line (maybe even the ability to use a lift to access a belowground line). Potentially mixed use trains too.

    Larger and bulk items would stay on ferries and ships.

    Comment by MilesT | February 7, 2020 | Reply

    • My views too! It’ll be interesting to see Rail Operations Group get with running Class 769 freight shuttles between London Gateway and Liverpool Street

      Comment by AnonW | February 7, 2020 | Reply


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