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12May94 UK: SPECIAL REPORT - CHANNEL TUNNEL - THE FASCINATION.

The dream of tunnelling under the Channel had fascinated politicians and civil engineers for centuries. In 1802, French engineer Albert Mathieu Favier submitted plans to Napoleon for a tunnel which would be candle lit and carry horse-drawn carriages.In the 1870s construction started on a rail tunnel between Folkestone and Cap Gris-Nez.The British called a halt, worried about national security.In 1973, Georges Pompidou and Edward Heath, tried and failed.Their scheme (above) was scrapped in 1975 by the Labour government.So when Margaret Thatcher and her transport secretary Nicholas Ridley (below) expressed their interest in the idea, there was a strong sense of deja vu.But the cynics reckoned without their commitment - or that of the French socialist government.What is more Mrs Thatcher and Mr Ridley insisted that it could be built without public money.They were right. CONSTRUCTION NEWS