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Eurostar LATEST: No end date in sight for French customs protest

French customs union has insisted it will be continuing with the work-to-rule protest that has brought chaos to Paris' Eurostar terminal.

Eurostar LATEST: No end date in sight for French customs protest
Passengers queuing at Gare du Nord. Photo: The Local

READ ALSO What should I do if I'm planning on travelling on the Eurostar?

Eurostar again warned passengers on Tuesday not to travel from Paris unless absolutely necessary amid more long queues at Gare du Nord.

The work-to-rule protest by French customs staff began on March 4th and was originally scheduled to continue until March 20th. However unions extended the protest, and now say there is no end date in sight.

“We have no information on when it will end and we haven't heard what we need to hear from the government. We want it to end because it's tiring for us too but we can't give up until our demands have been met,' said Vincent Thomazo from the UNSA union.

READ ALSO:

'This is France': How passengers in Paris feel about Eurostar travel chaosPhoto: AFP

Eurostar said on Friday that the strike had been suspended, but later admitted that was a “misunderstanding”.

On Tuesday the company referred to industrial action until March 27th, but the union insists that there is no end date in sight.

“Eurostar don't know anything because we don't know anything,” added Vincent Thomazo.

Eurostar's official advice to passengers on Tuesday was not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

The company said: “Due to industrial action, we are experiencing very long queues in Paris Gare du Nord and some delays on trains from this station. We would advise not to travel from Paris unless necessary and it will be possible to change the date of your journey free of charge or claim a refund.”

Customs officials are trying to press demands for higher pay and demonstrate what will happen if greater controls are put in place once Britain leaves the European Union, currently planned for later this month.

Instead of going on strike – meaning they would not work at all – the customs officers have been carrying out work-to-rule industrial action which means that they only do what is required by the rules of their contract. 

This means that they precisely follow all safety or other regulations, which has means lots of checks and questions which has slowed down the flow of passengers through terminals at Eurostar, Eurotunnel and the ports in Calais.

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.

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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.
   
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