As soon as March 1986 the 5 French companies began seconding Managers and Executives to Transmanche Construction to take charge of the launch of the Construction France building site .

These professionals defined the guiding principles of the realization of the project and completed the following fundamental choices before the end of 1986:

The organization of the Construction France site

A concept of decentralized organization is adopted, emphasizing the principles of delegation and accountability in all areas: social, security, quality, costs and deadlines.

This organization includes:

  • 4 operational sub-projects in which, each Director, acting under established policy, is responsible for all activities,
  • 5 functional directions ensuring the definition and enforcement of procedures.

A policy of communication adapted to the complexity of the project ensures the indispensable information for decision-making and for the cohesion of the participants.

The challenge of recruitment: 75% of the regional workforce

Transmanche Construction listens and takes into consideration the requests of the Region expecting for the French site to fit into the regional society, particularly in the area of employment.

By mid-1986, the daring decision was taken to focus on the recruitment of labour force in the Nord and Pas de Calais Region and to avoid building living quarters for displaced workers.

This unusual bet was won through an original plan setting up tutoring and training.

TMC formalized on February 13, 1987, a target of at least 75% regional labour hiring.

The major technical choices

  • The design of the undersea French tunnel boring machines (TBMs): real submarines
  • The decision is taken to use TBM prototypes whose resistance to a water pressure of 100 m allows them to cross aquifer areas in the French side of the tunnels without prior treatment of the ground, whilst moving forward at full speed in the waterproof chalk marl.
  • The design for these new machines studies were conducted under great pressure and at considerable speed and the first order for a TBM was signed on November 7, 1986.
  • The Sangatte shaft: the heart of tunnels

The emblematic work of the Sangatte shaft is a work of reference in the Civil Engineering world, but the intelligence of its design has to be stressed because it brings a new solution to the many problems initially with the French tunnels such as:

  • Significant water inflow on the land side,
  • Compliance to the  planning of  excavation of the tunnels requiring  complex logistics,
  • Imperatives of safety in all areas.
  • Desirable nearness to the concrete ring prefabrication plant.
  • The building permit for the realization of the Sangatte shaft is issued on November 4, 1986. This materialized the remarkable work done in a few months.





The dialogue opened in 1986 between Transmanche Construction and the Region expanded as part of a partnership on the following topics:


Employment – Training – Reorientation

The site access training continue, meeting the growing needs of the construction site.

At the end of the civil engineering work, internal retraining allows staff to move on to electromechanical activities.

At the end of the project, an emphasis is placed on reorientation actions and new arrangements are made:

  • The CELLOR Orientation Cell, set up by Transmanche Construction,
  • The Trans-Channel Home Office for Information and Job Search (BATIRE), listing external labor needs.

Of the project as a whole, 95% of the workers and 68% of the supervisory staff were recruited in the region. The initial bet of 75% of regional hiring is largely won!


The regional economy

Transmanche Construction appeals to the industrial potential available in the Region, which wants a significant participation in the construction site.

  • High-performance information systems were put in place:
    • The Contact Info newsletter on its past and future Contracts,
    • The Enterprise Contact Exchange for Fixed Link Contracts.
  • The ACTE, Association Calais Tunnel Expansion created by companies of Calaisis, opens an office on the site to constantly respond to calls from the construction site to which it provides a remarkable service.

In total, more than a thousand companies work with Transmanche Construction and take half of the contracts.


Local context: The municipalities of Coquelles, Frethun, Peuplingues and Sangatte

The land impact of the French Terminal affects many farms and leads to the loss of 8 of them. While this impact is offset by exemplary negotiations between Eurotunnel and representatives of the rural world, the cessation of activity remains painful for the families concerned.

As for the site itself, it appears that the impact studies do not sufficiently address the consequences of carrying out such a gigantic project for the inhabitants and residents. In a common effort to minimize these nuisances, a permanent consultation is established between Eurotunnel, Transmanche Construction and the Monitoring Committee comprising the four municipalities concerned. This consultation resulted in significant compromises that led Pierre Crespel, Mayor of Coquelles, to write in 1994:

« Our interlocutors at EUROTUNNEL and TML were able to take into account, as far as possible, the local context and the mayors were able to take into account, as far as possible, their objectives »


And in memory, the Project of the Century remains the Project of the Region



Conception, construction et chantier du Tunnel sous la Manche