Cross-channel services resume but travel disruption continues


Travellers are able to start to resuming their Christmas getaways following the end of an unexpected strike in France, however the resulting backlog is causing delays.

The industrial action affected Eurostar – which operates passenger services to and from London St Pancras – and Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, which runs vehicle-carrying trains to and from Folkestone.

At least 30 Eurostar trains were cancelled on Thursday with services resuming on Friday morning, but the company said it will run six extra trains between Paris and London into the weekend.

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Le Shuttle services resumed on Thursday evening.

Speaking Thursday evening, Eurotunnel said: “Eurotunnel management and trade union representatives have reached an agreement at the end of a day marked by strike action which led to the closure of the terminals and the interruption of services since midday.

“This agreement means that LeShuttle services will resume progressively this evening and Eurostar tomorrow morning.

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“Eurotunnel welcomes this agreement and reiterates its apologies to all LeShuttle customers as well as Eurostar passengers and rail freight operators whose traffic has been impacted by this strike.”

Eurostar said: “Train traffic will resume tomorrow, with a normal timetable out of London, Paris and Brussels.

“To help support our customers who could not travel because of the Eurotunnel strike, Eurostar will run six extra trains between Paris and London”.

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The high-speed rail service will run an extra two trains each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“Customers who have been affected today have received direct communication about their journey and had the option to exchange their tickets free of charge or claim a refund,” Eurostar added.

However, disruption is continuing with long queues for cross-Channel journeys, motorway closures and train cancellations.

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The Port of Dover in Kent said it is taking about 90 minutes to process cars with pre-booked tickets.

It attributed the delay to a surge in demand for ferries after the Channel Tunnel rail link was closed on Thursday due to unscheduled industrial action by French workers, which ruined the travel plans of tens of thousands of people.

The M20 motorway in Kent remains closed in the coastbound direction between junctions 8 and 9 due to Operation Brock, which involves organising a queue for freight traffic during disruption to cross-Channel services.

National Highways said this is causing 45-minute delays.

Student Grace Ferris, 27, told the PA news agency it was a “massive inconvenience” that she missed her Eurostar train back to Manchester for Christmas due to the strike and had to stay in a hotel in Paris.

Ms Ferris, who lives in Barcelona, waited in Gare du Nord for “a couple of hours” and booked a next-day flight to Edinburgh, before a Eurostar ticket for Friday became available and she bought that instead.

She said the staff at Gare du Nord “were kind of polite but they were just obviously so unhelpful, like they’re just saying you have to figure it out yourself and find another way”.

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