While everything is up and running now, there was more travel chaos for Brits this past weekend. It all started after there was smoke detected in the Channel Tunnel. Due to this, Eurostar services had to be suspended on Saturday, Jan. 17. When the service was first suspended, the company had no idea when it would have the trains running normally again. In fact, it posted on Twitter that the Channel Tunnel was going to be closed until “further notice.”
It didn’t take Eurostar engineers long to figure out what was causing the smoke. According to police in Kent, the smoke buildup was being caused by a lorry fire. This fire was at the French end of the tunnel. However, with almost no place for the smoke to go once it got inside, it slowly made its way down to the other side of the tunnel.
Instead of waiting for the smoke to clear out, passengers who were hoping to use Eurostar services were asked to re-book with other trains. Eurostar said that the only people that should wait for the tunnel to reopen were the ones who could wait to travel until Saturday evening. However, it pointed out that even after the tunnel opens back up, there would be significant delays because it had a buildup of traffic from the tunnel being closed all day.
There were a several other services that were suspended. The Eurostar trains that linked St. Pancras in London to Paris and Brussels were suspended. Eurostar said the freight and car services that connect Calais and Folkestone were suspended as well.
When speaking about the suspension, a spokesman for the Kent police department said that there was a fire on the French side of the tunnel. As a result, Eurostar had no choice but to close the Channel Tunnel until further notice. Since the fire was on the French end, it was dealt with by French authorities. There was no one injured in the fire, but because the United Kingdom wasn’t handling the cleanup, authorities could not tell when it would be finished. They have to not only recover the train from the tunnel but also clear out the fumes.
Eurostar later posted a message on its website saying that it was sorry for any trouble that the delay caused passengers. However, safety comes first, and the company cannot simply run trains in a tunnel where there is smoke detected. People who were planning to travel via the Channel Tunnel should either find a different route or postpone travel until another day, it recommended.