Eurostar Snow Chaos Official Review Released
February 14th, 2010 by elisa

A French newspaper has released a report that claims that the Eurostar snow chaos in December was down to old and badly-maintained trains.

Seven days before Christmas passengers were trapped in the Channel Tunnel for up to 16 hours when the trains broke down. Some were left in darkness and they were given little to eat or drink in that time it has been reported. Air-conditioning and toilets on the train also broke down, with one carriage being designated as an “open toilet” area conditions were so bad. 

At the time Eurostar said excessively fine powdery snow that managed to get into the trains’ engine was to blame. Eurostar suggested it was the tunnel’s operator, Eurotunnel‘s fault that passengers were not rescued more quickly. But the report in Le Parisien claims that the blame lies with Eurostar, adding that improved procedures should be in place to stop snow entering the engines and calls for “winterisation” of trains, preparing them for cold weather.

 The official report into the breakdown is damning, claiming that contingency plans to aid the rescue of passengers and for those unable to travel were “insufficient” and train crew were also criticised for “going into hiding” during the power failures.

The review’s joint chairmen Christopher Garnett and Claude Gressier have set out three core recommendations for Eurostar:

1) Train reliability – engineering improvements which will enhance the reliability of its trains

2) Evacuation and rescue – improvements should be made to tunnel evacuation and rescue procedures which will ensure passengers can be transported from the tunnel quickly and effectively

3) Managing disruption and improving communication – improvements to assist passengers better and provide more effective communication in times of disruption.

Eurostar have claimed that they will invest more than £30 million into implementing these recommendations stating in an apologetic article on their website that “Eurostar is fully committed to ensuring that the disruption our travellers experienced before Christmas never happens again and that we win back your confidence and trust in our service.”

You can view Eurostar’s full response to the official review here.

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