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World News

Eurostar services resume after major disruption

  • By Harrison Jones
  • BBC News

Eurostar announced it would operate all services to London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam on Sunday after a day of major disruption.

New Year’s plans for thousands of people were ruined after flooding of a tunnel under the River Thames led to the cancellation of all Eurostar services between London and Paris on Saturday.

Eurostar warned on Sunday that there could still be delays, but services have resumed.

Southeastern, which canceled its high-speed services to Ebbsfleet on Saturday because it uses the same route as Eurostar, will run a reduced service on that route on Sunday.

And the Met Office has warned there could be disruption to domestic travel this weekend as wind and rain sweep across the UK. A yellow weather warning for wind is in place from 10:00 GMT to midnight for the south coast of England, south west England and south west Wales.

In Scotland, ScotRail said it expected disruption, including speed restrictions, due to adverse weather conditions.

The first Eurostar train left London a few minutes late at 08:10 GMT.

On Sunday morning, Eurostar said: “Flooding in the Thames Tunnels has been brought under control by Network Rail High Speed.

“There will be speed restrictions in place this morning which could cause delays and stations are expected to be very busy.”

On Saturday, passengers faced high hotel bills, significant difficulty reaching their destination or high airfares. The Port of Dover said on Saturday that it had no more foot passengers available for the day.

Richard Thorp, technical director of HS1 which runs the track, apologized to customers saying he knew the disruption to travel plans was “devastating” but said things were looking “much more positive” Sunday.

He told the BBC that water had been drained from both tunnels and it was now a matter of getting as many trains and people through as possible.

An unprecedented volume of water overwhelmed the pumping systems, causing the flooding, he said.

Stories have emerged of passengers facing difficult situations on both sides of the Channel.

A heavily pregnant woman from Norwich said she “sobbed for about an hour” after being stranded in Paris.

Ella Gatier, her four-year-old son Xander and his father were due to return to England after a break at Disneyland Paris.

Legend,

Many passengers were sitting and waiting for news at St Pancras International on Saturday

She told the BBC on Saturday morning that the scene at Gare du Nord was chaotic and no help was available for affected travelers.

Ms Gatier, 33 weeks pregnant, said the next available train was January 3 – the day she is due to return to work – with hotel and alternative travel unaffordable.

“There are no trains, no ferries, no hotels,” she said.

“I don’t have £1,200 a night to stay in Paris. I can’t even get a train or connection to Amsterdam and back home in England.

“Plus, I’m not sure they’ll allow me to fly at this point in my pregnancy.”

Legend,

Megan Downs and her young son on the train to Paris airport after their Eurostar service was canceled

Curt Downs, his wife Megan and their one-year-old son were also stuck at Gare du Nord.

“The Eurostar staff were completely overwhelmed and couldn’t suggest anything to us,” he told BBC News.

A staff member told them they had 4,000 passengers to help, Mr Downs said.

He said the family spent two hours trying to find a way back to the UK, searching for ferries, car rentals and flights.

They managed to get some of the last seats on a £450 flight from Paris to Manchester, from where Ms Downs’ mother makes a five-hour round trip to take them home to Bedfordshire.

Meanwhile, at a crowded London St Pancras station, emotional travelers sat on their suitcases, frantically trying to find alternative routes.

Christina David, 25, and Georgina Benyamin, 26, from Sydney, had their train canceled after traveling around Europe for three weeks on a budget.

They planned to “make an effort” for their final stopover in Paris – where they hoped to celebrate the New Year in an expensive hotel with a view of the Eiffel Tower – before returning home.

Ms Benyamin said she wanted to see Paris “light up” but now felt frustrated and angry.

“There were a lot of people crying,” said her friend Ms David. “We don’t know where to go, we have nowhere to stay.”

Video caption,

This video shows the extent of the flooding inside the tunnel

Video taken inside the flooded tunnel shows water gushing onto the tracks from a pipe attached to the tunnel wall.

Thames Water earlier said a “fire control system” was likely to cause the flooding. But HS1 said the source of the flooding would be investigated, but at this stage there was “no evidence to suggest the fire control system was in any way linked to this”. or the problem.”

It said the flooding was “being resolved” and the line would be operational, but with speed restrictions in place and delays and disruption expected.

“We understand how frustrating this has been for passengers and apologize for the inconvenience caused at such an important time of year,” a spokesperson said.

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