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08Oct92 UK: CHANNEL TUNNEL SPECIAL - AWARD HONOURS TUNNELLERS' RESOUNDING SUCCESS.

The Construction News Achievement Award is to be presented tomorrow to the Transmanche Link consortium of contractors for the tunnelling work on the Channel Tunnel.A specially commissioned painting of the tunelling work by Charles Hardaker - capturing the scale and the drama of the achievement - will be presented to Pierre Parisot, chairman of TML, and will hang in the TML boardroom.The 10 contractors - five British and five French - plus the tunnel operator Eurotunnel will receive framed prints.The tunnellers' achievement, which the award commemorates, is that in less than four years they overcome the geographical barrier which had separated Britain from mainland Europe since the Ice Age and which had frustrated the efforts of politicians, planners and engineers for nearly two centuries.Everything about the tunnelling work is on the grand scale. The three tunnels total 150 km in combined length; tunnelling records were broken regularly; at its peak, the project employed 4,600 people on the UK side alone.As was to be expected on a project of this scale, not everything went smoothly. Early progress was slow. Well chronicled disputes between the contractors and the tunnel operator scarcely helped matters, and there were initial problems in welding together 10 large contractors into a cohesive unit. The project's finances often appeared to be on a knife edge.The Channel Tunnel is arguably the single most important European construction project of the century. For the tunnellers' success in overcoming all the obstacles this project is a worthy winner of the Construction News Achievement Award.