Page last updated at 18:52 GMT, Friday, 12 February 2010

Eurostar passengers reaction to review of crisis

Eurostar passengers after moving to shuttle train
Rescued Eurostar passengers aboard a shuttle train

Eurostar passengers affected by severe disruptions in December have been e-mailing their reaction to a report into the cause and handling of the crisis.

The independent review criticised Eurostar's contingency plans for helping stranded passengers and raised concerns over poor conditions aboard trains which had broken down.

Here are some of your comments:

I am pleased to see that the review has been published but I must say that to those who were struck on these trains, myself being one of them, nothing new has been released. I read the CEO's grovelling apology at the end of your report, but when I spoke to Eurostar personnel regarding conditions on the trains I was told I must have been mistaken and things were "not that bad". Even reading a comment by the CEO a few days later, he was denying that conditions were as bad as numerous passengers had reported to the press. I am also angry at comments made on the web site by him saying that all passengers that were stuck on these trains have now been compensated. I guess that I am not the only one who, five weeks after submitting his claim, is still waiting for confirmation that they are looking into it. The CEO's "I'd like to say, on behalf of Eurostar, I am very, very sorry," will not convince myself to use Eurostar again in the near future.
Adam, Folkestone, Kent, UK

The report does not go far enough. In Paris it was impossible to communicate in any way with Eurostar beyond a continuous message from the tannoy. As a local, on the phone to my wife with internet access, I did more to help stranded passengers in Paris than Eurostar did. It wasn't difficult to stand up and make a few announcements. Hundreds of people helped with news and accommodation guidance in no time at all. Shame on Eurostar, I have pulled all my company's business from them.
Martin, Paris, France

I was on the second train. We were transferred to a vehicle transporter which had no seating. Children and even the disabled had to sit on the oil covered floor, or stand. People were being sick all over and in carrier bags. People were urinating in bottles and there were piles of nappies left in corners. We were taken back to Calais and were met by a mob of police officers to prevent anyone from exiting the train. They refused to open the doors to let air into the carriages. We then had to transfer to another train when we got back to the UK and it was the paramedics that organised this as the Eurostar/Eurotunnel staff weren't anywhere to be found. The passengers were the heroes here, rationing their own food and drink. Off-duty police officers dealing with angry passengers, holidaying doctors, nurses and first aiders. The driver of the train explained this had never happened before, so they didn't have a contingency plan. A refund and a free ticket is an insult.
Drew, Leeds, UK

Being stuck on the train was one of the worst experiences in my life. But I would say that what bothered me more was the appalling disorganisation once we were out of the tunnel. We sat in emergency sidings from 0430 until 1100 and weren't allowed off the train. There were hardly any announcements. I felt like I was going mad. We were all hungry and thirsty and desperately tired. I think £150 compensation is pathetic.
Emma, Brighton, UK

It is all very well promising refunds, but I have been waiting nearly two months for mine. Apparently, although the refund has been authorised by Eurostar, it is then passed to their accounts department for processing. It is apparent that the refunds are just piled up on desks.
EL, Canterbury, UK

I am an electrical engineer with 30 years experience on high voltage power systems and motors. This is just basic maintenance, not rocket science! It really is a complete mess up and somebody should be keel-hauled for it.
Gareth, Cardiff, UK

As a physics engineer and electronic engineer, I find it hard to believe their likely story of fine snow getting in and short-circuiting electrical components. If air is sucked in through those grills, then why is there never a problem with regular rain? Fine rain could equally be sucked in, and could even find its own way in with or without suction during stormy windy weather. So, come up with another excuse, Eurostar - this one doesn't wash with me.
Jason, London, UK

Can I just point out a lot of us were actually stuck in the tunnel for nearly eight hours, not five and a half. Not only did the train crew appear to go into hiding, they also pretended not to understand English, and when asked in French, chose to ignore some of the passengers. I really wish I had been in the coach where there was a 'blitz' spirit, because there was a definite divide in our coach which was awful. One side was arguing amongst themselves about wanting to smoke, of all things. Luckily, I was on the side where everyone was supportive and trying to keep everyone calm. That said, the response when we got back to Folkestone was fantastic. Huge praise must go to the Kent Constabulary and also the members of staff aboard the Eurotunnel train we were transferred to, who did their best to keep us informed.
Steph, Bath, UK

The true test of how "very, very sorry" Eurostar are will only come if a similar situation arises in future. Rather than waiting till then, I hope the regulatory authorities will do a thorough check of the company's equipment and procedures once they say they've invested this money and fixed the problems.
David, Birmingham, UK

What about tens of thousands of people stuck in their cars on the M20 on the 19th/20th of December, when both the Eurotunnel and the port of Dover were closed? We were trying to get to Dover to cross the channel on a ferry, and due to these problems we were stuck in our car for nearly 24 hours with little food and water, and with no toilet at all. I thank God that my two-year-old daughter has somehow survived it, but I guess there have been thousands of similar families, with no food, freezing temperatures, and with no information from anyone what's going on. Is anyone reviewing this? I doubt it.
Robert, Bedford, UK

Typical nonsense from management - why were trains allowed into the tunnel when others were already stuck there? I seem to remember some 25 years ago when I used to commute from St Albans to London we had the 'wrong kind of snow' excuse. Have the railway industry learnt anything? No, they just keep going - the public will pay is their mantra.
Martin, Kidderminster, UK

I am registered disabled and my wife is 70-years-old. We were forced to stand in a queue in the freezing cold Gare du Nord for six hours with very little information. Only when we got to the front of the queue we realised that hundreds of queue jumpers had taken the first class only entrance and these cheats got home long before us. Eurostar staff were completely unable to deal with the situation.
Simon, London, UK

We were due to travel with Eurostar on the 21 December to EuroDisney. We were advised that our train had been cancelled when we got to the terminal and were advised to find alternative transport and that they would pick up the bill. We have not received a penny from Eurostar and were told that we should receive something by the 3 March. We will wait and see.
Ann, Carmarthenshire, UK

My family spent a day stuck on the M20 and lost a day's holiday, and had to pay for a night in a hotel because Eurotunnel's shuttles were not working. I realise it was not Eurotunnel's fault that Eurostar was such a shambles and, despite pathetic lack of communication/information, the Eurotunnel staff (not a manager in sight) were quite heroic dealing with the chaos. Eurotunnel, however, have refused to offer compensation, saying it was Eurostar's fault along with (undeniably) extreme weather. But do we have to accept that?
James, Sevenoaks, Kent

I would like to know if the compensation being offered to Eurostar customers will extend to Eurotunnel customers also held up by the failure of their trains. So far Eurotunnel haven't sounded too positive about the prospect and we are being forced to take them through the small claims court to recover our losses.
Colin McKay, Andover, UK

I was on holiday from Australia and arrived in Paris on 19 December, only to find I had to make my own way from to London with no assistance from Eurostar. I then endured an enormous wait in St Pancras on 22 December to return back to Paris. I wrote a letter of complaint, and after a few weeks I got a personal reply from Eurostar from someone who had clearly read my letter. They apologised for the disruption to my holiday and agreed to refund all my out of pocket expenses, including items like the very expensive phone calls I had to make in rearranging travel on my mobile. It was disappointing to see a large and respected organisation like Eurostar make such a complete and utter mess of customer relations. Staff at the time hid behind glass screens and inadequate messages and simply did nothing to assist. I am however very satisfied with the response and feel that they have listened and are trying to repair the damage. I look forward to my next trip and will consider Eurostar again.
Mark, Canberra, Australia


Were you affected by the Eurostar disruption in December? Send us your experiences using the form below.

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The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.




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SEE ALSO
Eurostar snow delays criticised
12 Feb 10 |  Business
Eurostar to pay 10m compensation
18 Jan 10 |  Kent
Eurostar train 'stuck in tunnel'
07 Jan 10 |  Kent

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