Big freeze halts Eurostar once again

EUROSTAR train services to and from France were suspended for a second day because of freezing weather yesterday, throwing the Christmas holiday plans of tens of thousands of people into chaos.

More than 24,000 people have already been affected, but the operator of the Channel Tunnel passenger trains admitted it could not give a guarantee of when services would resume.

Eurostar were send test trains along the route yesterday to see if they could withstand the sub-zero temperatures in France which are believed to have caused five trains to break down in the tunnel on Friday.

Eurostar’s executive director Richard Brown said: “I can’t guarantee our services will be working because we’ve suspended the service again today until we get to the bottom of what happened on Friday night.

“We did run two or three trains yesterday, they all got through the tunnel OK, but one or two of them showed symptoms of the problem that happened on Friday night.

“We will not start services again until we’re sure that we can get them through safely,” he told BBC television.

More than 2,000 passengers spent Friday night trapped in the Channel Tunnel, some without anything to eat or drink, in stuffy conditions.

Angry passengers have accused the company of handling the situation badly.

Brown admitted it had taken a “very long time” to evacuate the trains.

“Clearly, if you’re on a train stranded in a tunnel, it is a distressing experience,” he said.

“People will panic,” he added, which was why the contingency plan was to get the trains out of the tunnel, with the passengers still on board, as soon as possible.

“That’s what went wrong, it took too long to get the trains out.”

And although the trains had been carrying sparewater supplies, that had run out, he said.

“I’m not saying it went well, I’m saying it went rather better than actually a lot of people say.”

Thousands of people were left stuck at Eurostar terminals in London and Paris on Saturday, as they desperately sought information on when they could catch a train.


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