13 DECEMBER 1986, Page 34

Sir: Ian Waller shows a scant disregard [sic] for facts

in discussing the Channel Tunnel.

The design of the Channel Tunnel and the shuttle service starts off from an inhenrently safe tunnel, track, signalling and power supply design. The shuttle trains themselves will, as Ian Waller said, have the most modern coach design and cars will be segregated in groups of five by fire curtains, which have a half-hour fire resistance. Cars, be they on ferries, shuttle trains or on rail vehicles in the alpine tunnels, are highly unlikely to catch fire when they are stationary; there is certainly no records of this happening in the 30 years that the alpine tunnels have been in opera- tion.

Keeping passengers with their vehicles has positive benefits. The 'No Smoking' rule will be to a large extent self-policed, as has successfully happened on the London Underground. The same applies to the prevention of cooking on stoves and, in- cidentally, the identification of any plant or animal smuggling.

The safety design of the shuttles is therefore, we believe, far superior to the ferries. It could be argued that the ferries segregate their passengers, not only for safety reasons so that they can be mustered into lifeboats, but to ensure that they spend money in the bars and duty-free shops.

In the shuttle trains, there are fire doors or curtains between every five cars, where- as there are no bulkheads on the car decks in ferries whatsoever. One wonders why such an elementary safety precaution against sinking in the event of a collision has been omitted in ferries.

We believe that our design is inherently safe and that, as it is developed, it will receive the approval of the inter- governmental commission.

A. F. Gueterbock

Eurotunnel, Portland House, Stag Place, London SW1