Refugees disrupt Eurostar rail service

Hundreds of refugees cause delays in Eurostar rail service after entering tracks

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Passengers covered with thermal foil blankets after their Eurostar train was stranded at Calais Station

Updated Sep 3, 2015

Eurostar passengers' travel was disrupted on Tuesday night, after refugees entered the railway tracks and climbed on trains near the Channel Tunnel in France. 

Two thousand passengers, had to wait almost 16 hours to arrive in London on Tuesday night, because of the disruption of commute from Paris to London, upon refugees climbing on train tracks near the Channel Tunnel in France.

Two trains, one to London and one to Paris, had to return to the station, while two more Eurostar trains were cancelled on Wednesday.

Another London-bound train had to stay in Calais and could not get back to Paris because of a technical difficulty. Some passengers were visibly angry and complained that they had been waiting since the early morning hours for a back-up transport.

A spokesman for Eurostar said, passengers anticipating to travel this morning can expect a normal service, but added that two trains have been cancelled “in order to ensure the service is as robust as possible." he also added  “anyone affected by the disruption will be compensated”.

Eurotunnel’s John Keefe, spoke to BBC and said “due to increased security at the Channel Tunnel they [refugees] are now trying to get on the tracks which Eurostar and freight trains use.”

Anna Adkins, one of the passengers of Eurostar, told BBC News that passengers were asked to listen for people climbing on the trains roof, and that police 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. So for five hours that got quite hot and quite humid and quite horrible." said Adkins.

Last month, French police sprayed refugees with tear gas as they were attempting to reach Britain through the Channel Tunnel. The refugees managed to get through most of the security fences, but were dispersed after riot police interfered.

Home Secretary, Theresa May and French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, speaking to the Sunday Telegraph said that the refugee crisis is their “top priority.”

"We must break the link between crossing the Mediterranean and achieving settlement in Europe for economic reasons," they added.

According to the British and French interior ministers, the issue needs to be resolved as it is a "global refugee crisis."

The Channel Tunnel has been operating since 1994, connecting Folkestone, Kent, in the UK, with Coquelles, near Calais. It hosts Eurostar trains for passengers as well as freight trains and has been dealing with refugee issues since its opening.


TRTWorld and agencies