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Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Saturday, 26 September 2009 12:53 UK

Refunds after Eurostar breakdowns

Map showing Lille, London and Paris

About 1,000 Eurostar passengers are to be given refunds after being stuck on two trains for several hours because of a power cut to overhead lines.

Friday's 1932 BST service from London St Pancras to Paris and the 1934 BST to Brussels stopped outside Lille, north-east France, at around 2100 BST.

Alternative transport was eventually provided, though many passengers arrived five hours late.

Eurostar said delays were now down to no more than 15 minutes.

A spokesman told the BBC that trains were leaving London about a quarter of an hour late and that inbound journeys were now only a few minutes behind schedule.

Earlier Eurostar told the BBC that about 460 passengers had been transferred to replacement buses for the 60-mile journey to Brussels in Belgium.

The Paris-bound train with some 500 people aboard was towed into Lille station by a diesel locomotive, from where a replacement train took them on to the French capital.

Sara Forgione
We had to wait in complete darkness for about two hours, and then walk the full length of the train to make our way to the buses
Passenger Sara Forgione

The spokesman said all would be reimbursed for their tickets and offered complimentary return trips.

By the time the rail replacement buses pulled into Brussels Midi station, at 0330 BST, a sea of weary and disgruntled passengers were met by relatives.

Matt Bagley, from Thorpe in Surrey, was among them.

Describing the moment the train stopped, he said: "The lights went off, the emergency lights came on, and we then sat there for four hours whilst they tried to rescue us."

Sara Forgione, 27, from Archway in north London, said: "There was no light; we had to wait in complete darkness for about two hours, and then we had to walk the full length of the train in complete darkness to eventually get off and make our way to the buses.

"The communication from the staff was terrible."

However, other passengers reported a jovial and upbeat mood on board. In one carriage, passengers sang "Happy Birthday" and passed around cake to celebrate the 40th birthday of a fellow traveller.

However, David Bibby, 44, who is originally from Essex but uses the service every week to commute between his Belgian home and London workplace, had one particular gripe.

"They closed the bar as soon as the train stopped, which was a rather frustrating approach I thought for a Friday night," he said.

Earlier this week, a power cable collapsed onto a Eurostar train that had just arrived in London from Paris, causing delays to 11 services.



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SEE ALSO
Eurostar delayed by power fault
24 Sep 09 |  London
Business travel falls at Eurostar
15 Jul 09 |  Business
Eurostar returns to full service
23 Feb 09 |  England

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