EUROSTAR LATEST: Union warns delays in Paris could worsen over Easter

Eurostar passengers faced the return of long queues at Paris Gare du Nord train station on Monday as the protest from French customs officials was stepped up. Unions warned that the work-to-rule protest could get "more intense" in the coming days.

EUROSTAR LATEST: Union warns delays in Paris could worsen over Easter
Queues of up to 90 minutes have been reported at passport control. Photo: AFP

After more than a month of travel chaos at the Paris terminal of Eurostar, things had seemed to be returning to normal in recent weeks.

However on Sunday evening and Monday morning passengers were again reporting long queues for passport control with delays on trains.

One Twitter user reported “500m long queues and no information on what's happening”.


Passengers queuing at Gare du Nord during the height of the protests in March. Photo: The Local

The Gare du Nord station master described the situation on Monday morning as “very complicated and slow” with delays of up to 90 minutes.

Eurostar reported that services between Paris and London on Monday were running about an hour late.

The week marks the start of the Easter holidays for many and is expected to be a busy one.

French customs officials began a work-to-rule protest on March 4th, which led to weeks of long delays at luggage checks and Eurostar was forced to advise its passengers against all non-essential travel.

The 'no travel' advice was lifted on April 3rd and the situation had looked to be returning to normal, although French customs unions insisted that their protest was ongoing.



“We're getting back to the strike because we still haven't heard anything from the government regarding our demands,” Vincent Thomazo from the UNSA union told The Local.

“It's possible it could continue every day and also get more intense. Our agents are very angry,” he added.

Thomazo went on to say that the reason the situation had seemed to improve recently was because Eurostar passengers had been deciding not to travel or had at least been following Eurostar's instructions for queuing which had eased the situation.

The long-running protest concerns pay and conditions among the French customs staff.

Instead of going on strike, customs officers have been carrying out work-to-rule industrial action.

This means that they precisely follow all safety or other regulations, which entails 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 if and when 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.