Eurostar travel UPDATE: ‘We have no idea when the strike will end’

Passengers travelling on the Eurostar in Paris faced another day of long delays and serious disruption as French customs agents continued their work-to-rule protest. Eurostar said they had no idea how long the travel misery would continue.

Eurostar travel UPDATE: 'We have no idea when the strike will end'
Passengers queuing at Gare du Nord. Photo: The Local

Eurostar has warned of lengthy queues at Paris Gare du Nord and advised against all but essential travel.

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

The company said on Wednesday: “Due to industrial action by French customs, we are experiencing lengthy queues at Paris Gare du Nord station and expect this to continue until the end of March.

READ ALSO What is the French customs protest all about?

“We strongly recommend that you do not travel during this period unless necessary. Please, also note that we are unable to offer our priority check-in service.”

Two trains were cancelled from Paris on Wednesday (08:37 and 21:03) and several more trains have been cancelled in the coming days (see here).

Eurostar staff running Twitter accounts have been inundated with messages from frustrated passengers in recent weeks and on Wednesday morning the company told the public that the power was in the hands of French customs unions.

In a response to a question from a passenger named Julie Eurostar said: “Our disruption management team can only plan this out each day as it comes.

“We are sorry to say that we have no idea when the strike action will end, as it is not within our control and French customs agents are the only ones who will decide when to end it.”


Speaking to The Local on Tuesday, the French customs union said it was unable to say when the work-to-rule protest – which began on March 4 – will end.

Eurostar has advised passengers not to travel until April.

“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,' Vincent Thomazo from the UNSA union told The Local.

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.