Eurostar has warned of lengthy queues at Paris Gare du Nord and advised against all but essential travel.
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.
“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.”
Hello Julie, 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.
— Eurostar (@Eurostar) March 27, 2019
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.