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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report: Fire Shows Risk To Safety In Chunnel

LONDON -- A serious fire in the Channel Tunnel exposed fundamental problems with the operators' safety procedures that must be corrected before the trains carrying freight trucks can run again, according to a report released Tuesday.

"The incident was more serious than it should have been because the emergency procedures were too complex and demanding, and the staff on duty had not been adequately trained to carry them out,'' said Roderick Allison, chairman of the Safety Authority that monitors safety in the undersea tunnel.

The Safety Authority made 36 recommendations for changing safety procedures in the tunnel but stopped short of calling for expensive design modifications to the train cars that carry the freight trucks.

The carriages have open-lattice sides, rather than being enclosed, which Safety Authority member Jeremy Beech, the county fire officer of Kent, had warned years earlier could be a problem if they allowed air in to feed a fire with the train speeding through the tunnel.

Beech was overruled by other members of the Safety Authority.

Eurotunnel says it is correcting any deficiencies and hopes to be hauling the freight trucks between England and France by mid-June.

Before running the freight truck services again, Eurotunnel must gain clearance from the Intergovernmental Commission that regulates its operations.

The so-called "chunnel'' was shut down after the fire on one of the freight truck shuttle trains Nov. 18. French authorities are still investigating the cause and have not ruled out arson.

Passenger car trains, and through trains from London-Paris and London-Brussels were soon back in business with some delays as repairs are made to the damaged section of the tunnel.

Authorities said those services can operate safely, but they wanted to take a closer look at the shuttles carrying freight trucks, the only ones with the open-lattice design.