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Calais migrant crisis: Trespassers cause Eurostar disruption

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Media captionEurostar passengers arriving at St Pancras station in London told the BBC about their experiences

Up to 2,000 Eurostar passengers have had their journeys disrupted after migrants got on to train tracks near the Channel Tunnel in France.

Two trains had to turn back on Tuesday night - one to London and one to Paris - after reports of migrants climbing on trains about 2km from the tunnel.

A fault on another train left people stranded overnight near Calais, while two trains were cancelled on Wednesday.

A "rescue train" for those stranded arrived in London just before 11:00.

Eurostar said other trains were now expected to run to schedule.

'Blocked by groups'

Eurotunnel, which manages and operates the Channel Tunnel, said the SNCF tracks - used by Eurostar and national network freight trains - were "blocked by groups of migrants" between 21:45 and 02:23 local time.

Spokesman John Keefe said migrants tried to get on to the tracks after security was increased at the Channel Tunnel.

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Image caption Passengers were stranded after train tracks in France were blocked

The incident resulted in long delays to several trains and the cancellation of two services on Wednesday morning.

Another London-bound Eurostar train had a technical fault on Tuesday night and could not get back to Paris, leaving passengers stranded in the port town overnight.

'Listen for migrants'

Some travellers said they saw migrants on top of other trains, and many complained of their frustrations at the delays and re-routing overnight.

Anna Adkins, who was on a Eurostar train to London when it was stopped in Calais, told BBC News how passengers were asked to listen for people climbing on the train's roof.

Police then checked the train and a police helicopter flew overhead, she added.

"This all lasted about five hours. And in that time we lost power, so we had no lights and we had no air conditioning and we were locked in so we couldn't open any doors," said Ms Adkins.

"So for five hours that got quite hot and quite humid and quite horrible."

Passenger Danny Bell, on a train from Paris to London, tweeted: "We've been abandoned on a platform somewhere in the cold with NO INFORMATION."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some stranded passengers were forced to spend the night in Calais

Fellow traveller Simon Gentry added: "On a Eurostar apparently 'surrounded by migrants'. Been asked to 'listen out for people walking on the roof' while we wait for the police."

Eurostar, which said the delays had affected up to 2,000 passengers, referred only to the people on the tracks as trespassers, but a number of commuters said they saw or were told of migrants in the area.

The current crisis in Calais is part of a wider migrant surge into Europe from north Africa and the Middle East.

Last month, Home Secretary Theresa May warned the ongoing migrant crisis could shift from Calais to other ports, saying she was "well aware of the possibility of displacement".


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