Eurotunnel is the business name for the corporation Groupe Eurotunnel SA. This corporate entity was formed in 1986 to bring about a long-standing dream - that of a passenger and freight tunnel underneath the English Channel (or La Manche if you prefer) in order to connect the British Isles to the European Continent. The Groupe ('Eurotunnel" from here on) secured financing and after eight years the Channel Tunnel ("Chunnel" colloquially) opened for business in 1994.

All transit through the Channel Tunnel is by rail, and that is how Eurotunnel earns its keep. It operates a small fleet of electric trains which provide car shuttle service across the Tunnel, as well as some few diesel locomotives for maintenance and switching. Through this concession, Eurotunnel earns nearly half a billion euro per year which is the majority of its income at present. In addition, Eurotunnel charges toll fees for freight trains and a per-passenger charge for passenger service through the tunnel, which is mostly provided by Eurostar trains.

Eurotunnel maintains the concession on the Channel Tunnel through 2086. Although the company struggled for the first decade and sank into bankruptcy in 2006, it has since restructured and changed its operations to provide for profit - as a result, it made a small token profit in 2007, and for the first half of 2008 was in the black to the tune of some 26 million euro. It has suffered from competition from low-cost airlines and ferry services, as well as from a lack of high-speed rail links between the Tunnel and London. Completion of such links occurred recently, and an upswing in passenger traffic has been observed since.



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