On this day in auto history – May 6th

Thu 6th May 2021

It was on this day in 1994 that the Queen and French President Francois Mitterrand formally opened the long-awaited Channel Tunnel amid elaborate ceremonies in France and Britain.

Creating the first land link between Britain and Europe since the last ice age 8,000 years ago, the 31-mile Tunnel took eight years to build and was hailed by the Queen as "one of the world’s greatest ever technological achievements” at the accompanying ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The Chanel Tunnel was not the first project of its kind - the Seikan Tunnel connecting two Japanese islands had opened six years previously - and was mired in delays and disputes from day one, eventually opening a year later than originally planned and costing twice its original £4.7 billion budget.

Despite more than 400 million passengers having passed through the Tunnel in its 24-year existence, original revenue projections were quickly proven to be overly-optimistic, causing the privately-financed operators Eurotunnel to be saddled with huge debts from the outset. However, the company has recently moved into the black and is now on a stable footing.