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Eurostar in Paris tells passengers ‘not to travel’ due to French customs protest

Eurostar was telling all passengers 'not to travel' through Paris on Wednesday due to the ongoing industrial action by French customs officers. There were hopes that the 'work to rule' protest would end after crunch talks between unions and government ministers.

Eurostar in Paris tells passengers 'not to travel' due to French customs protest
File photo: AFP

“We are advising all our customers not to travel with us. If this is not possible, please be extremely patient. Our teams are doing their best to help where/when needed,” said the manager of Eurostar at Paris Gare du Nord, Lawrence on Twitter.

He warned that there are still “severe delays” of over four hours, as well as cancellations due to the fact that French customs officers are still carrying out their work-to-rule industrial action  aimed at showing the kind of chaos at customs checks that will happen after Brexit.

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Q&A: Eurostar and airports in France hit by ongoing protest by French customs officers

Eurostar announced that five trains were cancelled on Wednesday: the 10:06 from Paris Nord to London St Pancras, the 15:03 from Paris Nord to Ebbsfleet International and London St Pancras, the 20:07 from Paris Nord to Ashford International and London St Pancras, the 21:03 from Paris Nord to Ebbsfleet International and London St Pancras, the 19:01 from London St Pancras to Paris Nord. 

The company also warned that customers could expect long queues in Lille. 

The situation has come somewhat as a surprise to Eurostar whose staff seemed to be optimistic that Tuesday's crunch talks between the customs officials union and the French government had been positive and would result in an end to the action.

 

“I do not have detailed information but I was informed that talks were apparently constructive. Hence my deception this morning when I’m greeted by customs still on strike,” tweeted Lawrence.

After the negotiations unions announced that the French government had released €14 million to improve the salaries of customs officers.

However Vincent Thomazo from UNSA union told La Voix du Nord: “It's the grassroots (of the protest) that will make decisions” for the rest of the movement.

“As of now (Tuesday afternoon), we are contacting agents on the ground. They will take the news and discuss it with each other.

“Pending the end of these national consultations (Grand Debat), scheduled for Wednesday noon, the movement could therefore harden in some places, if the field agents decide it should.”

The customs officials' list of demands includes additional staff and equipment, new infrastructure and better financial benefits. 

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EUROSTAR

Eurostar’s souvenir bomb warning after Paris station evacuated

Passengers on Eurostar have been warned about bringing shells that have been turned into souvenirs onto the trains after Paris' Gare du Nord station had to be evacuated.

Eurostar's souvenir bomb warning after Paris station evacuated
The Eurostar terminal at Gare du Nord was evacuated
The Paris transport hub had to be evacuated early on Monday morning after a World War II shell was found in a passenger's bag.
 

 

The evacuation, which happened at about 5.45am on Monday, was completed by 10am, but has led to longer than usual queues for Eurostar services.

It is the latest in a series of security alerts caused by passengers trying to take souvenir war artillery on to trains.

Eurostar issued a special warning ahead of the First World War commemorations in November 2018, but with just a month to go until memorial events for the D Day landings, there are fears that the problems could recur.
 
“As you're travelling during the commemoration period, please remember that you can't bring any real or replica bombs, shells (complete or partial) or weapons on board – even if you bought them from a gift shop,” Eurostar told passengers last year.
   
“If you bring them with you, they'll be confiscated at security and may result in the need to evacuate the station.”
   
Old World War I shells turned into flower pots have been popular souvenirs in Belgium and France ever since the end of the conflict, but passengers attempting to take them on board trains for Britain have sparked bomb scares in recent years.
 
Some of the alerts, which happen every few months, have also been caused by war memorabilia collectors bringing back disarmed ordnance unearthed by farmers at battle sites in northeast France.
   
Eurostar said even disarmed shells can set off X-ray alarms.
   
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