‘There was a heaving crush in the Gare du Nord,’ says passenger
Those trying to travel between the UK and France have encountered further problems after Eurostar trains were cancelled yesterday and this morning, with passengers struggling to access information.
The 8.01am service from London to Paris and 1.13pm service from Paris to London were “cancelled for operational reasons” on 25 julho, while the final trains from Paris to London and from London to Paris were cancelled the night before due to a broken-down train on the line in France.
This last-minute cancellation on Sunday evening left a train-load of passengers stranded in the French capital overnight, with some struggling to pay for accommodation.
Andrew Griffin, O Independente’s technology editor who was due to travel back to the UK on the axed service yesterday, reported that he arrived at the Gare du Nord at around 8pm to find a “heaving crush” of passengers in the Eurostar terminal.
Not only was his train cancelled, but the two previous services were also delayed by several hours, leading to a huge build-up of travellers.
“It was boiling hot already, even without standing around just waiting for information which never came – because they didn’t tell anyone anything," ele disse.
“The only info was on the big screen and that was just saying that earlier trains had been delayed.”
Mr Griffin added that passengers were “upset”, with some unable to afford accommodation overnight.
After what he estimated to be more than an hour, a Eurostar employee told waiting travellers booked on the final train of the night that they should find somewhere to stay and return to the station first thing in the morning.
“They said we’ve got €170 allocation for you for accommodation, you need to sort out your own Airbnb or hotel and claim it back,” says Mr Griffin. “It was obviously stressful, you’ve got to walk around, find a hotel.”
Passengers were also told they could spend €40 on dinner and ask to be reimbursed.
But a number of passengers said they could not afford the upfront cost of booking accommodation.
“Some people were obviously stressing, dizendo, ‘I don’t have €170 to go and pay for a hotel, what are you going to do?’” reports Mr Griffin.
A Eurostar spokesperson told O Independente today’s cancellations were a knock-on effect from the temporary closure of the high-speed line in France yesterday due to a broken-down train.
“The last thing we want to do is delay or cancel services, and in fact we have deliberately been cautious with the ramping up of our timetable to avoid this," eles disseram. “We are very sorry to those affected, but with the line closed, the diversion via the classic line was our only option. Our teams in Paris and London are working extremely hard to support customers affected.
“With the one return service cancelled today, we will still be running 13 returns between London and Paris and passengers on cancelled services can change their ticket online for an alternative train.”
They added that, with regards to hotels for passengers stuck overnight, “where possible we will pre-book and pay for rooms so we do have that option available. Some customers prefer to make their own arrangements.”