News story

Fire on board a freight shuttle in the Channel Tunnel

Investigation into a fire on board a freight shuttle in the Running Tunnel North of the Channel Tunnel, 17 January 2015

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Library image of freight shuttle
Library image of freight shuttle

RAIB is working with the Bureau d’Enquetes sur les Accidents de Transport Terrestre (BEA-TT), the body responsible for the investigation of railway accidents in France, to jointly investigate a fire on-board a train in the Channel Tunnel. The fire caused serious damage to two trucks on-board the shuttle.

On Saturday 17 January 2015 at 12:23 hrs (CET), Eurotunnel freight shuttle 7340 was travelling from England to France in the Running Tunnel North of the Channel Tunnel, when the on-board fire alarm system detected a fire, which the driver reported to the control centre. Shortly after, the control centre received a second fire alarm from a detector located within the tunnel and the power supply to the overhead line was lost. Without electrical power, the driver of shuttle 7340 made a controlled stop in the tunnel at cross-passage 4418, approximately 16 km (10 miles) from the French portal, in preparation for evacuation of the 38 passengers and four members of Eurotunnel staff into the adjacent service tunnel.

All passengers and three members of staff were travelling in the amenity coach, located immediately behind the leading locomotive. Their evacuation into the service tunnel through the cross-passage started at 12.30 hrs and was reported to be complete by 12:37 hrs. By 13:35 hrs, all other trains had exited the tunnels and firefighting operations were commencing. The passengers and crew of shuttle 7340 departed from the service tunnel at 14:03 hrs and were taken to the French terminal of the Channel Tunnel system. Two trucks on the shuttle were confirmed to be on fire by the firefighting services. The fire was brought under control at 16:40 hrs but it still required several hours of dousing to cool the shuttle down afterwards.

By 03:45 hrs on Sunday 18 January 2015, commercial operations in the Channel Tunnel using the Running Tunnel South had resumed. The incident train was authorised to be removed from the Running Tunnel North, and was hauled out of the tunnel by 14:45 hrs on the same day. As the train stopped in the French section of the tunnel, the investigation will be led by BEA-TT. The joint investigation will aim to establish the sequence of events and factors that led to the fire, understand how the event was managed, and identify any safety lessons.

RAIB and BEA-TT will publish the findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of the joint investigation. The report will be published in both English and French.

Published 28 January 2015