Passengers suffer on stuck trains in tunnel

Passengers suffer on stuck trains in tunnel

Passengers suffer on stuck trains in tunnel

Passengers wait at St Pancras Station in London after delays to the Eurostar train services on Saturday. AP

Angry travellers said they had been left with no power, air conditioning, food and water. Eurostar said the breakdowns had resulted from technical problems caused by the temperature difference inside the tunnel and freezing conditions outside. “It is snowing in northern France, its very cold, conditions are very bad,” a spokesman for Eurostar, operated by French rail operator SNCF, its Belgian counterpart SNCB and British government-owned LCR, told the BBC.

“Everyone is suffering from the bad weather, the airports are suffering, people on the roads are suffering, and so are our Eurostar trains.”

He said a rescue locomotive and a shuttle train were used to move passengers out of the 51-km tunnel, the longest undersea subway in the world which conveys about 40,000 people a day between Britain and continental Europe.

Passengers accused Eurostar of doing little to help them.

“There was very, very poor communication from the staff,” said Lee Godfree who was returning to Britain with his family from Disneyland Paris.

He said passengers had been forced to get off the broken down train themselves, and they had to move through the service tunnel in the dark before getting on a “filthy” car transport train. “We have had children asleep on the floor, they have been sick, we had one toilet, it’s been a complete nightmare,” he said. “We had people fainting on the train. It was just pandemonium.”

Eurostar said it had cancelled all its trains on Saturday before 1200 GMT because of the severe weather, and added that services over the weekend would be severely disrupted.

Heavy snowfalls across southeastern England on Friday had already brought chaos to road, rail and air passengers.

London’s Gatwick and Luton Airports were closed for many hours while flights were cancelled at Heathrow and Stansted airports.