20 Dec 2009

Channel tunnel service stopped after trains trapped

1:28 pm on 20 December 2009

The Eurostar high-speed train service between France and Britain has been suspended till Tuesday after five trains got stuck in the Channel tunnel in freezing weather.

More than 2000 passengers were trapped inside the tunnel for up to 16 hours before being rescued.

Some passengers were kept on board trains and one commuter called the experience a complete nightmare.

For another, Lucy Morris, the usual journey of two hours and 20 minutes from Paris to London took more than 16 hours. She was stuck in the Channel Tunnel for about five hours, and after her train was towed out she was transferred on to another train that was stuck in the sidings.

Weather blamed for electrical faults

The chief executive of Eurostar, Richard Brown, has blamed the weather for the breakdown. The extremely cold conditions outside caused condensation in the warm tunnel that in turn caused electrical problems.

However, Mr Brown acknowledged, it was "utterly unprecedented to have five trains failing in the tunnel at the same time. We will obviously be looking very closely at this to make sure that is does not happen again."

The company plans to offer passengers a full refund for tickets , another free journey with them and $320 compensation.