BBC News

Eurotunnel train stopped in Channel Tunnel by power fault

media captionRichard Byrom, passenger: "We were evacuated into the service tunnels"

Hundreds of passengers were evacuated from a broken-down train in the Channel Tunnel in an incident that has led to long delays to travellers.

The 06:20 Le Shuttle from Folkestone, carrying 382 people, stopped about a quarter of the way to France.

The passengers were evacuated and taken on to the French terminal.

Long delays and queues continued all day. The broken down train reached France at 17:15 BST where passengers were reunited with their cars.

A spokesman for Eurotunnel said services should run normally on Tuesday.

media captionRichard Westcott says big queues are forming as passengers wait at St Pancras

There were also delays on Eurostar passenger services, with delays and cancellations on trains between London St Pancras and Paris and Brussels.

Eurotunnel said a fault with the overhead power lines in the tunnel caused the problem.

The driver brought the train, which carries people through the Channel Tunnel in their cars, to a stop and passengers were evacuated into the middle service tunnel, which runs between the two main tunnels and is designed to allow people to escape from halted trains.

A train was brought from France along the other main tunnel and parked alongside the stopped train to allow passengers to board it and be carried to France without their cars.

Passenger Richard Byrom, from Maidstone, told BBC Radio Kent: "All of a sudden I heard this crashing noise, it didn't sound like the train itself had crashed but what became evident later on was that the power cables had got entangled or come down.

"For about 20 minutes the train just stopped and we didn't know what had happened.

"Eventually they said they are going to take us off the train because they couldn't move our train because it was trapped by the power cables or something like that."

He said the passengers had to wait in the service tunnel for about half an hour before boarding the train that took them to France and he had been stuck for about four hours in total. He said they were given an evacuation pack of a pen, notepad, playing cards, torch, fan, water and wet wipes.

image copyrightBrian Tait
image captionPassengers - and dogs - had to be taken to France in a train without their cars

Another passenger, Brian Tait from Dover, said earlier the process had been "civilised" but added: "Communication has been bad, we have not heard when we will get our car back, it's all been word of mouth."

image copyrightLuke Chaplin
image captionHundreds of passengers had to be led into the service tunnel

Luke Chaplin, who said he was starting a holiday with his wife that was a wedding present, said: "We've been given water and a sandwich, just one sandwich. Nobody has said anything about compensation."

Dean Bacon, from Bewdleyin Worcestershire, said: "This unfortunate incident has led to a total shambles, highlighting extremely poor evacuation methods and equipment.

"After the incident happened it took four-and-a-half hours before we got out of the tunnel.

"The evacuation train was a basic freight train and did not have any facility to cater if there was anyone with any injuries."

He said things had been "extremely difficult" for families with young children.

"There were dogs barking, old people who had to stand for long periods with no clear evacuation plan," he added.

The train was only about seven miles into its 30 mile tunnel route when it stopped and the spokesman said it would have been quicker to tow it back to Kent but the company chose to take it to France so passengers could be reunited with their cars.

Tour de France

Eurotunnel continued to run Le Shuttle services in the one unblocked tunnel with trains running in one direction for 90 minutes and then in the opposite direction for 90 minutes.

media captionThe BBC's Sophie Raworth is one of thousands of passengers who have been delayed

The firm said there was a waiting time of about three hours at the terminal.

Eurostar, which operates passenger trains through the tunnel running between London and Paris and Brussels, cancelled a number of services in each direction and warned passengers on trains that were running to expect delays.

There had been concern the delays would affect the Tour de France with teams heading to France after finishing the third stage in London but cyclists flew to France on Monday evening on four chartered planes from London City Airport.

P&O Ferries was preparing to transport the Tour's entourage earlier. The fourth stage is set to begin in Le Touquet on Tuesday.

Brian Rees, from the ferry company, said: "We've got something like 1,100 Tour vehicles coming through the course of the afternoon and into the evening."

Michael and Catherine Pike, from south-east London, said they had been stranded in a car park in Calais for about three hours.

Mrs Pike, 80, said: "We were hoping to catch a ferry but haven't heard a peep out of anybody at all.

"There is food but nobody says a word."

Eurotunnel apologised for the delays and said it had tried to keep customers moving.

Eurostar said four trains would be cancelled on Tuesday morning.

In a statement, Eurostar said: "Eurotunnel engineers are working to resolve the issues and restore full power to the affected section of the Tunnel.

"The latest operational update from Eurotunnel suggests that these works will continue until 06:00 BST on Tuesday 8 July, when the Tunnel will partially reopen.

As a consequence of the ongoing loss of power, Eurotunnel has informed Eurostar that some further disruption should be expected to services tomorrow morning."

Related Topics

  • Folkestone
  • Channel Tunnel

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