'Lots of people crying' - Eurostar cancellations cause misery for New Year travellers

AFP - [email protected]
'Lots of people crying' - Eurostar cancellations cause misery for New Year travellers
Eurostar services from London to Paris have been disrupted by flooding. (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP)

Eurostar has cancelled all trains from London up until at least 4pm, plunging New Year's Eve travel plans into chaos.


Eurostar trains were cancelled on Saturday due to flooded tunnels in southern England, causing misery for New Year travellers in the second major disruption in 10 days.

The latest cancellations follow a wildcat strike by French unions days before Christmas and weather warnings from the UK's Met Office for rain, snow and ice across large parts of the country.

Hundreds of travellers were left stranded at London's St Pancras station after Eurostar cancelled all services until at least 4pm.

Newly-weds Nicole Carrera, 29, and her husband Christopher, 31, visiting from New York said their plans to spend New Year's Eve at Disneyland Paris had been "ruined".

"Now we won't get into Paris tomorrow until about 6:00 pm," Carrera said, adding that instead they would just walk around the French capital.

Another couple, Christina David, 25, and Georgina Benyamin, 26, from Sydney, had planned to make Paris their final stop in Europe before flying home.

David said she felt "frustrated, angry, sad", adding that "there were lots of people crying" and that they now had nowhere to stay.

The services were cancelled after tunnels near Ebbsfleet International station in Kent were flooded.

Eurostar runs services from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam via Ashford, midway between London and the southern English coast.

Posting on X, formerly Twitter, Southeastern Railway said: "No highspeed trains are expected to run today between St Pancras and Ashford International.

"We are working to fix the flooding in the tunnels."

In a statement, Southeastern added that the flooding meant "all lines are blocked".

"Disruption is expected until the end of the day."


Year of travel chaos

The disruption comes after French unions ended a wildcat strike that had stranded holidaymakers and held up freight just days before Christmas.

The surprise walkout by workers that blocked the tunnel sparked hours of chaos at rail hubs in Paris and London.

Eurostar train services resumed on December 22 after an agreement was reached with unions saying negotiations had yielded "results that satisfy us".

Saturday's cancelled services top off a year of travel disruption for UK travellers due to strikes, storms and other problems.

Travellers to France in April endured waiting times of up to 16 hours at Dover due to larger than expected numbers and weather conditions.

The then interior minister Suella Braverman denied the delays were a consequence of Brexit.

In August, flights to and from the UK were hit by a technical fault affecting air traffic control systems while in November Storm Ciaran saw ferry crossings and flights cancelled.

More than a year of walk-outs by rail workers over pay and conditions amid a cost of living crisis has also impacted travellers.

Although the RMT rail union last month said its members had voted in favour of a pay deal, the Aslef union, which represents drivers, has yet to come to an agreement.

Eurostar is owned 55.75 percent by French state-owned SNCF Voyageurs.

It almost went bankrupt during the Covid-19 pandemic but was saved with a 290-million-euro ($320.6 million) bailout from shareholders including the French government.


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