Night time closure of the Channel Tunnel is reportedly being considered by ministers if the Calais crisis worsens.
They have sought legal advice on what was described by Whitehall sources as the “nuclear option” of closing the tunnel to freight and passenger trains overnight, the Telegraph reports today.
The proposal, which has been discussed at meetings of the government’s emergency Cobra committee, follows concerns that the number of services at night is increasing the risk of migrants making it through the tunnel.
It is understood that ministers have so far decided not to close the tunnel after Eurotunnel voluntarily reduced the number of freight services at night.
However, the option will be held in reserve and put “back on the table” if the crisis worsens.
A government spokesman said: “We have and continue to consider all potential courses of action to improve security at the Channel Tunnel in Coquelles and to prevent any loss of life.
“A number of new security measures have been introduced and Ministers both here and in France keep the situation under constant review.”
The disclosure comes as a Sudanese man was arrested by police on Tuesday just steps away from the mouth of Eurotunnel in Folkestone, Kent, after avoiding trains travelling at 100mph.
The migrant became the first man to successfully walk the length of the 31-mile tunnel after scaling four security fences, dodging 400 surveillance cameras before running in darkness through the tunnel.
A Eurotunnel spokesman said: “This type of criminal intrusion into the tunnel is extremely rare, as well as being both illegal and extremely dangerous.
“Trains travel through there from England at up to 100mph, and he could easily have been struck. Usually migrants climb aboard Shuttle trains or lorries, not run all the way through the tunnel.”
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