Feltech worked closely with TML (Transmanche Link) and Eurotunnel to provide television coverage of a number of events on the run up to the opening of Eurotunnel on May 6th 1994, including the moment the English and French tunnels joined on December 1st 1990. This involved many hours work underground researching, testing and proving methods to provide live television pictures and radio coverage from hundreds of feet below the English Channel. The final solution was to utilise 2 spare fibre optic cables on Eurotunnel’s data transmission system to provide multiple ‘inject’ points throughout the tunnel system and multiple signal paths between the terminal sites in Folkestone and Calais.
A sponsored walk, ‘Le Walk’, was conducted through the service tunnel a few months before the system opened for business. As a result of our detailed knowledge of the tunnel systems Feltech were contracted to provide video and audio circuits to the terminal site in Folkestone from 7 locations within the tunnel for BBC Television and Radio coverage of the event. This coverage was seen live throughout Saturday on ‘Live and Kicking’, the BBC news bulletins and Grandstand and was heard nationally on Radio 1.
The culmination of our work for Eurotunnel was the Host Broadcasting of the Royal Inauguration of Eurotunnel by HM The Queen and President Mitterrand. A Media Centre was created on the terminal site at Folkestone and contained a television studio, 54 television editing suites, 8 radio studios, work stations for 350 written journalists and on-site film processing and transmission facilities.
As Host Broadcaster Feltech provided cameras in France, on the train, in the running tunnels and throughout the Folkestone terminal site. Stand Up facilities where created on one of the over- bridges at Folkestone allowing broadcasters a stunning view of the platforms and tunnel entrances for their pieces to camera. In total we utilised 55 cameras connected to 8 OB vehicles and required a technical crew in excess of 220 people. The event was a great success and received much acclaim from organisations such as the BBC, Sky News and the Daily Telegraph. Coverage of the event was seen live around the world.
Robin Swinbank Consultant to Eurotunnel said “Generating live TV coverage of the Channel Tunnel was the main objective of the day. Naturally, we couldn’t have large numbers of TV crews wandering around the tunnels with trains running through at 100mph. For this reason we had to offer the world’s media a host broadcast service. I do not think we could have persuaded the BBC or ITN to accept this option unless they were confident from the outset that we could deliver quality images. Feltech’s obvious experience and competence helped us inspire this confidence with the major broadcasters. They also delivered by transmitting live pictures from 40 metres beneath the seabed of The Queen and President Mitterrand travelling through the tunnel. This was described by one major broadcaster as a harder technical feat than beaming pictures from the moon – but that is exactly what Feltech achieved on the day”.