Page last updated at 20:25 GMT, Saturday, 15 May 2010 21:25 UK

Channel Tunnel services 'back to normal'

Eurotunnel spokesman John Keefe says the safety procedures are 'very effective'

Eurostar is running a normal service after a carbon dioxide alert in the tunnel temporarily suspended Channel Tunnel services on Saturday.

Passengers had faced delays of up to three hours after trains in both directions were halted for more than an hour shortly after 0700 BST (0600 GMT).

A Eurotunnel shuttle train was evacuated before the tunnel reopened, initially only on a single track.

The exact cause of the alert is still under investigation.

A spokeswoman for Eurostar, which runs services between London, Paris and Brussels, said services were now "back to normal".

She said that up to 6,000 passengers had experienced delays of two to three hours earlier on Saturday.

The tunnel was fully reopened in both directions shortly before 1500 BST, the spokeswoman said.

Eurotunnel spokesman John Keefe said that "several thousand" passengers travelling via the shuttle had been delayed for as long as two hours.

"Those caught up in the 9-11am peak suffered the worst delays," Mr Keefe said.

Passengers had endured hold-ups similar to those on Eurostar services, but Eurotunnel said on its website all its services were "currently running normally" again.

Evacuation

Eurotunnel said the alarm had set in place an emergency procedure in which all passengers had to be evacuated.

The nearest train, a shuttle carrying 30 lorries and drivers, was evacuated and taken back to the surface on the UK side.

Emergency services from Kent were called.

Nigel Shamber, duty inspector at Kent Police, said: "They have an awful lot of sensors in the tunnel and one of them went off. These things happen very frequently."

A Eurotunnel spokeswoman said: "The freight train was travelling towards England and was more than half-way through the tunnel when it was stopped.

"Emergency services are trying to work out why the detector went off. We need to understand why it happened."



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