Travelling on the Eurotunnel – everything you need to know.

The take a mere 35 minutes to reach Calais. Image courtesy of Cargo Cult on Visualhunt / CC BY.

Opening its doors to the public the in 1994, The Eurotunnel has proven to be the quickest, cost-effective way to travel across the English Channel. A large number of locals and tourists use the tunnel to explore the sunny French towns and villages in Calais and beyond. Unlike the Dover- Calais ferry service which takes close to 90 minutes, the Eurotunnel takes a smooth 35 minutes to reach French soil. Verify that your insurance covers overseas travel. If you’re using a car hire firm, ask them what policies they have for vehicles touring abroad.
Read on for more information about travelling on the Le Shuttle.

What documentation should I take with me?

You are leaving one country and entering another, so don’t forget your passport or national identification card. To keep your transfer straightforward and quick, update your information on the Advance Passenger Information system. This way the UK Border Force won’t have trouble locating your travel details and other particulars. If the relevant personal information is not present, you may be asked to add your API before proceeding to France.

Do I have to book in advance or can I purchase a ticket on arrival?

You can purchase your tickets at the Freight Drivers’ Centre or just before you check in Calais however we’re not going to recommend leaving bookings to the last minute. Depending on the season of travel, you may not always find a free space on board. Booking in advance is considerably cheaper however you can make bookings as short as one day before travel.

How early should I be at the check-in?

The ideal time-frame for check-in is 30 minutes. Therefore it’s best to be there half an hour before departure. You’ll have adequate time to complete your check-in process. If you start feeling peckish, you’ll have time to grab a bite to eat before your journey. Take a walk through the shops and eateries at the terminal or ask for directions and pointers at the AA store.

What is the check-in process?

Keep your booking reference and credit/debit cards within reach. When you arrive at the tunnel, you need to present your booking reference and the card used to pay for the ticket. Once check-in is complete, and you know where to embark, park and wait for your train to arrive. Once it does, drive through the train until you are requested to stop. Several screens will direct passengers onto the right train so you can either park up and wait for your train or drive directly towards the queue your screen has indicated.

Vehicles loaded on the train. Image courtesy of edpritchard91 on Instagram

What can I do during the journey on the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle train?

You won’t have the freedom to move around, so it’s best to grab a book or pop open your laptop and review your travel itinerary. Wi-Fi is available on the trains, and a washroom is accessible in the carriage. Once the train is in motion, you can move around in your train carriage. Walking between carriages is discouraged.

What do I do if I miss my train?

If you are unable to arrive on time, you will be subject to delays and may even be asked to purchase a new ticket. You may have some luck if you reach the Eurotunnel within a two-hour time frame of your reserved ticket time, as there’s a high chance staff will make arrangments for you to board the next departing train. If you arrive 24 hours after the ticket time, your ticket is invalid and nonexchangeable.

Can I take my pet(s) on the Eurotunnel?

Yes, you can, provided your pet is proven to have the correct vaccinations as per implemented standards, is micro-chipped and is part of the UK Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Your pet will be with you throughout the journey and is perhaps the best way to cross the channel with your pooch.

The cons :

During holiday seasons, you may pay a whopping £320 on weekend travels and around £200 from Tuesdays to Thursdays. Many travellers may find the steep prices off-putting, especially when the Dover-Calais ferry service prices go no higher than £135 midweek and £180 on weekends, during the holidays. The only proven cost-cutter is to utilise the Eurotunnel at the crack of dawn or late in the evening. You could bring down the fare’s on your ticket to £200 on weekends and £165 during mid-week travels, during the vacation period.