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19.01.15

Fire and electrical problems cause Eurotunnel chaos

A weekend of woe for Eurotunnel and Eurostar is continuing into the working week, as delays face both operators following a fire on Saturday and separate electrical fault on Sunday that both shut the tunnel.

Eurostar tweeted this morning it would attempt to run a full service today but that passengers should expect delays between 30-60 minutes. Eurotunnel is operating a reduced passenger timetable with one departure every 90 minutes, and delays of one hour on the UK side of the tunnel. Freight services are unaffected.

The troubles started at midday on Saturday when a lorry travelling from the UK to France began smouldering and set off CO2 detectors. As the incident occurred on the French side of the tunnel a team of firefighters from France were called in. 

Some passengers have reported being evacuated from trains in the tunnel and given gas masks before being placed in an airtight room to wait for a bus to evacuate them.

Services were cancelled for the rest of the day as the train remained in the tunnel for accident investigators to examine.

Although the incident did not cause major damage, "there was a lot of smoke," Denis Gaudin, an official from Calais, told Yahoo.

The fire was located in the north tunnel, which remained closed yesterday (Sunday 18 January), while the south tunnel was put back into use yesterday morning, once residual smoke had been cleared.

However more problems struck later in the day yesterday when an electrical fault forced the closure of the south tunnel for two hours. Eurostar cancelled 11 services in the afternoon and evening, while Eurotunnel was reporting one hour check-in waits and three-hour waits to board late Sunday evening.

A Eurotunnel spokesperson confirmed to AFP that there were ongoing "inspections in the tunnels".

Officials in Pas-de-Calais, at the French end of the tunnel, told AFP that the electrical problem had occurred on the English side and that no one was injured.

The full tunnel is not expected to be operational and open to travel again until Tuesday.

Overnight on Sunday Eurotunnel conducted more engineering works so that more sections of the tunnel could be opened in time for Monday services. Eurostar said it hoped to run a regular timetable but that services could be delayed up to an hour due to the tunnel being partially closed.

Eurotunnel reported that there were one-hour delays this morning on the UK side of the tunnel as it operated a reduced passenger service.

(Image source: Chris Ison/PA Wire)

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