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Eurostar ‘must improve’ after December breakdowns

Eurostar has been criticised for its handling of the transport chaos caused by the breakdown of five trains in the Channel Tunnel.

The breakdown of six Eurostar trains because of snow in December left 2,500 passengers stuck in the Channel Tunnel. Passengers had to endure overflowing toilets on trains and cold and darkness for hours on end. A further 100,000 passengers were stranded because of delays.

An independent report accused the train operator of poor maintenance and not being prepared to cope with breakdowns. It said the high-speed train operator had to improvise and its “provision of information to customers was inadequate”.

The report’s authors, former GNER East Coast Main Line rail boss Christopher Garnett and French transport expert Claude Gressie, made 20 recommendations.

They said: “This incident caused some passengers distress and others enormous disruption to their holiday plans at a critical time. We believe there are three lessons to be learned.

“First, passengers need to be assured that the Eurostar trains are reliable, and so improvements need to be made in this area as a priority.

“Second, if a train breaks down and passengers have to be rescued or evacuated, this must be done with greater speed and consideration, and more comprehensive emergency plans should be put in place.

“Third, in an emergency, passengers need to have prompt information and regular updates. Eurostar must improve the way it communicates with passengers and put in place new systems and practices to achieve that.”

Eurostar said it accepted the conclusions and was sorry for letting customers down.

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