Channel Tunnel disrupted by Calais fires

image captionThe tyres were set alight on the approaches to the Eurotunnel terminal

A burning tyre protest that blocked the motorway in Calais has disrupted Channel Tunnel rail services.

Ferry workers had set fire to tyres on the road leading to the port to try and block the entrance to the French Eurotunnel terminal, the company said.

The protesters ended their blockade at about 12:00 BST and services have since returned to normal.

Traffic from Folkestone on the cross-Channel rail service was not affected, Eurotunnel said.

Day return passengers were advised to reschedule their journeys.

media captionThe tyres were set alight to try to block the Eurotunnel terminal , as Lucy Williamson reports

Access to the terminal from Calais was blocked for a time, with congestion on the route from Boulogne.

Motorist Michael Shevlin told the BBC: "We got to within about 800m of the blockade and we saw like a big plume of black smoke against the blue sky and there seems to be about 50 to 60 protestors with white sheets."

Striking ferry workers had been protesting in Calais over job losses after Eurotunnel's sale of its MyFerryLink cross-channel service.

A Eurotunnel spokesman said: "They were burning tyres and blockading the motorway, preventing access to the terminal.

"This was on the public highway, so we called the police and local authorities to remove the protesters and allow access to our terminal.

"The protesters have now left of their own free will - it didn't look as if the police removed them," he said.

There were some delays to services earlier on, he added, but most have been resolved and a full service for freight and passengers has resumed.

But the company said because of heavy traffic on the motorway in Calais, cars and lorries were struggling to get through.

Some freight services are running run half-empty because lorries were stuck in the tailbacks.

Eurostar said the fire had not had any impact on its services.

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