More travel chaos in France as French customs agents reject government offer

Eurostar passengers in Paris and people using the Channel Tunnel faced yet more travel misery on Thursday after French customs officials rejected a €14 million offer from the French government, saying it was not enough.

More travel chaos in France as French customs agents reject government offer
Photo: The Local
On Thursday Eurostar passengers in Paris faced yet another day of travel chaos, with the company warning people to be prepared if they decided to go ahead with their journey as French customs officers continued their protest.  
The manager of Eurostar at Paris Gare du Nord, Lawrence posted the following notice on Twitter: “French customs movement still ongoing, Advising all our customers to: only travel when absolutely necessary, arrive 1/1.5 hours before departure, be very patient and ready to queue for 3+hours and to use main station toilets before queuing.”

Eurostar also announced that four trains were cancelled on Thursday: 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 and the 21:03 from Paris Nord to Ebbsfleet International and London St Pancras. 

French customs officials striking for better pay and more staff for the extra work expected with Brexit, turned down an offer of 14 million euros from the government on Wednesday, saying it was not enough.
The work-to-rule strike has caused traffic havoc over the last 10 days for Eurostar passengers at Gare du Nord and Lille, as well as at the port of Calais and the entrance to the Channel tunnel which links France and Britain.
By early evening on Wednesday the line of trucks waiting to get to England through the tunnel had stretched to four kilometres (2.5 miles), the local prefecture said.
The customs agents are demanding an increase in overnight pay, a danger allowance, and more staff and resources to help with greater controls that will be put in place once Britain breaks away from the European Union, currently scheduled in just over two weeks.
But the French unions representing the around 17,000 workers rejected the 14 million-euro ($15.8 million) budget boost offered by the government as it was “not sufficient compared to the agent's demands,” Jean-Marc Jame of the CFDT union told AFP.
“When divided by the number of agents, there is not much left,” he said.



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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.