Eurostar chaos: What should I do if I’m planning to travel?

A long-running protest by French customs staff has lead to cancellations, delays and long queues at Paris Gare du Nord - but what are your rights if you have tickets booked? And should you actually travel?

Eurostar chaos: What should I do if I'm planning to travel?
Passengers have been facing long queues since March 4. Photo: AFP

Should I travel at all?

For most of the month of March, Eurostar was warning against all but essential travel from Paris. That warning was lifted on April 3 and the official advice is currently to travel, but be prepared for delays in Paris.

Services running from London and Brussels are not affected by industrial action unless the outbound service out of Paris is delayed. Lille is also affected by the industrial action, but so far hasnt't seen the same level of chaos as Paris.

In March passengers were reporting queues lasting up to six hours. In recent weeks the length of the queues had dropped, although that seems to be because more and more passengers are taking Eurostar's advice and staying away. Queues at present are being reported at between an hour and 90 minutes.

Should I turn up at the station as normal?

Eurostar's advice on when to turn up has fluctuated throughout the issue, and there is currently no official advice. However Gare du Nord's station master has advised that queues are at about 90 minutes on Monday morning. If you miss your scheduled departure while you are queuing, you will be moved to the next available service.

And importantly passengers are also advised to use the toilets in the main Gare du Nord concourse before going through to the Eurostar terminal, to avoid getting caught short.

Will my train even be running?

At the height of the protests, several trains per day were cancelled. Eurostar is currently listing all trains as running, although there are significant delays on some services. However, if the protests continue there could be more cancellations.

Passengers are advised to check here before they travel. 

Can I claim compensation?

Eurostar will only offer compensation if your journey is delayed by more than one hour. The company asks people to wait 24 hours after the journey before making a claim. The form to claim compensation can be found here.

Note that the amount of compensation you can claim increases depending on how late your train was.

So when will it be over?

Nobody knows.

The problem for Eurostar is that the work-to-rule protest by French customs staff – which began on March 4 – is currently open ended. The union is asking for extra pay to justify the extra checks they will have to do when Britain leaves the EU. But one union official told The Local that the government is not talking to them, so there is no end date in sight for the industrial action.

Find out more about the ins and outs of the dispute here.


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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.