21 Dec 2010

UK weather: Eurostar passengers queue for second day

Eurostar passengers are facing queues of more than five hours at King’s Cross St Pancras. People without tickets are being told they won’t be able to travel as snow and ice continue to cause problems.

Thousands of passengers are queuing for a second day in the hope of catching a Eurostar train.

The queues are as long as Monday although there does seem to be more movement.

Eurostar staff are at the back of the queue advising passengers on whether they can expect to travel. Only people with tickets are being told to wait.

Those joining the queue on Tuesday morning have been told they will have to wait for around five hours outside before queuing inside St Pancras Station.

Eurostar says 80 per cent of its trains are running and it is hopeful that all passengers with tickets will be able to travel today.

Eurostar passengers queuing for a second day (Reuters)

The company’s asking passengers to turn up an hour before their train, but not significantly earlier, to try to minimise queues.

Security staff are also dotted along the massive line ensuring people safely cross roads and don’t block the pavements.

First aiders were drafted in after thousands of passengers were left queuing for hours yesterday when Eurostar services were cancelled.

The Salvation Army is also handing out free hot drinks to people.

Second year of problems

The weather is being blamed for the delays. Speed restrictions mean journeys are taking longer than usual so fewer trains are running.

It is completely insane…I’m surprised we’re having to queue outside. Fiona McAlpine, Eurostar passenger

For some people this is the second Christmas in a row they have been caught in travel disruption on Eurostar.

Last December a number of trains broke down following a severe spell of wintry weather.

The company says this year’s problems are not a repeat of 2009.

Catherine Morin is French but lives in the UK. Last year she had to cancel her plans because of the train breakdowns: “My train was at 09.22 this morning but I’ve been queuing for an hour and I’ve been told I’ll have to wait for around six hours.

“I’m not giving up like last year. The queue is moving so compared to last year we have progress but again lack of communication from Eurostar is still there so I’m not happy.”

Catherine’s story is a familiar one.

Fiona McAlpine lives in London and is trying to get to Paris to visit family: “Last year I had to wait for three days to get on a train but today it looks like I’ll actually get on. The staff are being much more helpful this year.

“It is completely insane – when I started queuing I was beyond the British Library. I’m surprised we’re having to queue outside.”