The scheme for tunneling the English Channel has again been defeated by the strong military and political considerations which, for a period of thirty years, have effectually delayed the construction of this much-needed work. Englishmen have always realized that their Insular conditions placed them at a great advantage, as compared with their neighbors across the Channel, whose contiguous frontiers necessitate the maintenance of huge standing armies. They consider that the opening of a tunnel beneath the English Channel would constitute a weak point in England's maritime defenses, and rob her, to a certain extent, of the seclusion which the sea affords. To an outsider it certainly does look as though the chances of invasion by tunnel would be exceedingly remote; that is, provided that proper defenses were maintained at the English landing, and the necessary mines for destroying, or inlet gates for flooding, th3 tunnel were prepared, and at all times carefully maintained. To render the tunnel effectual for pouring troops into the Island would necessitate a naval expedition sufficiently powerful to overcome the Channel fleet, and the landing of an army of sufficient strength, to hold the portal permanently against the British land forces, which, in a few hours, would be concentrated on the spot. However, since the British government will have none of the tunnel, its construction is iiidefinltely postponed. Meanwhile the Calais-Dover crossing, in spite of the improved channel steamers which have been placed on the route during the past few years, continues to be a source of no little discomfort to passengers to and from the Continent. The swift tides and heavy winds which prevail, kick up a nasty cross sea, which is trying tc any but the most seasoned traveler. There is now some probability that the problem will be solved by Americanizing the passage, to the extent of instituting a service of large train ferries, of the kind which have been doing such excellent service for many years in this country. These ferries are large and powerful vessels of steel construction, which are capable of taking a whole train of cars at one load, and transporting them from rail to rail without necessitating any change of cars, or any disturbance whatever of the passengers. The system has been brought to such perfection in the United States, that in one case, on the Great Lakes, a trip of sixty miles is made by this means. The Channel crossing is about 21 miles in length, and Is made in about one hour's time. If the train ferries were put in service, it would be possible to enter the berth of a sleeper in London and remain undisturbed until the train reached Paris or any other desired destination on the Continent. The proposal has received the sanction of the President of the Board of Trade, and is not likely to excite any opposition on the part of the military authorities.
This article was originally published with the title "Train Ferries for the English Channel"