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Eurostar trains resume after services hit by floods

Updated: 2024-01-01 08:43

Travelers are stranded at a station in London on Saturday. [Photo/Xinhua]

LONDON — Eurostar resumed services on Sunday after all its trains were canceled the previous day due to flooded tunnels in southern England, causing misery to tens of thousands of New Year travelers in the second major disruption in 10 days.

The first Eurostar train left London St. Pancras International shortly after 8 am on Sunday.

Engineers had brought water in two tunnels in Kent in southern England under control meaning that at least one tunnel was usable, it said.

Eurostar cautioned that "there will be some speed restrictions in place in the morning which may lead to delays and stations are expected to be very busy".

The Saturday cancellations follow a 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.

Eurostar operates services from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.

It announced late on Saturday that all scheduled trains would run on Sunday after an estimated 30,000 people were affected by the last-minute cancellations.

Travelers were left stranded on mainland Europe while those at St. Pancras scrambled to find hotel rooms or make alternative travel arrangements.

Some tourists said their New Year holiday plans had been disrupted.

Newlyweds 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".

Simon Shaw, 36, and his wife Heather, 37, from central England, had been due to travel to the French Alps for a skiing holiday with friends and family.

"We just arrived and saw everything was canceled this morning… it was chaos," Shaw said.

A spokesman for High Speed 1, which runs the route between London and the Channel Tunnel, said: "We understand how frustrating this has been for passengers and apologize for the inconvenience caused at such an important time of the year."

Cause under probe

The company has not revealed what initially caused the flooding which began Friday night when water filled tunnels near Ebbsfleet International in Kent, blocking the high-speed rail line.

The spokesman said the cause of the flooding will be investigated, but added that there was no evidence to suggest it was caused by a burst pipe feeding the tunnel's fire safety system as had previously been suggested by a water company.

Footage shot in the tunnel showed water gushing from a pipe and submerging the tracks.

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


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