Thousands freed from Channel Tunnel after trains fail
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Posted 19 December 2009 - 09:41 AM
More than 2,000 people spent hours trapped inside the Channel Tunnel after four Eurostar trains broke down due to cold weather. The trains failed as they left the cold air in northern France and entered the warmer tunnel.
Some passengers were evacuated to car shuttle trains, while others remained on the stranded trains overnight. Eurostar say the four trains have been moved from the tunnel and passengers are being transferred to England.
Meanwhile, more snow and freezing temperatures are expected for parts of Scotland and south-east and eastern England. Heavy snowfall caused travel chaos, forced schools to close and cut off power supplies in parts of the UK on Friday.
John Keefe from Eurotunnel, the operator of the Channel Tunnel, said the situation was "absolutely extraordinary". "Four Eurostars broken down at one time - it's absolutely unprecedented," he said.
"There's never actually been an evacuation of a Eurostar train in the 15 years that the tunnel has been opened and last night we evacuated two whole trains to get people off."
Eurostar services have been cancelled until noon and will be severely disrupted at the weekend. Passengers are being advised not travel unless their journey is essential.
The four trains were coming from Brussels and Paris, and Eurostar said the change in the atmospheric conditions caused a problem with their electrics.
A spokeswoman said some passengers were already back in England. She said the company was "extremely sorry" for the delays and refunds would be available for all those affected. "We will also be looking at compensation," she added.
Many people are at terminals at either end of the tunnel, waiting to make the crossing or to be transferred to other stations in England.
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