Eurostar train fails again, leaving 700 stranded

Passengers have to transfer to a rescue train as under-fire service breaks down on the way into London

Eurostar suffered another setback last night after hundreds of passengers became stranded when a train broke down on its way into London.

British Transport Police said a rescue train was sent out to pick up about 700 passengers after the train stopped running near Ashford in Kent at around 10pm.

One passenger who was returning from France told Sky News from the train that it suddenly came to a stop and the lights on the train went out.

"It's getting fairly hot but people are very calm, very relaxed," he said.

He said that the rescue train turned up shortly before midnight to take the passengers onwards to London.

Eurostar said the train stopped following a "major technical problem", which had not yet been identified. A spokesman said: "We are doing the transfer as quickly as we possibly can.

"We have put everything in position so that people who need to get taxis or people who need hotels are taken care of. Our priority is to make sure our passengers are looked after."

He added: "We are investigating what happened fully. We don't know exactly what happened or why at the moment. The priority at the moment is making sure the passengers are well looked after. As far as we are concerned we have got everything in place." He said all other services were running normally.

The incident is yet another to befall a beleaguered Eurostar which was heavily criticised after a series of train breakdowns during heavy snow in December.

The service, which was crippled for several days, left more than 2,000 people stranded in the tunnel – some overnight – after four trains broke down due to the cold weather just days before Christmas.

The breakdowns led to cancellations and huge disruptions and the company was forced to offer refunds or exchanges to all passengers who were due to travel.

A further train broke down in January leaving passengers stranded in the tunnel for more than an hour.

An independent investigation into the pre-Christmas travel chaos criticised the company this month for failing to adequately protect the train's engines from the winter weather. It said passengers had endured "appalling" conditions and said Eurostar was forced to improvise after failing to plan for such an emergency.

The trains are believed to have failed as they left the cold air in northern France and entered the warmer air inside the tunnel, affecting the engine air intakes.


Jo Adetunji

The GuardianTramp

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