Chunnel hoppers a stoic breed

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The Independent Online
The fire caused serious disruption for travellers to and from the continent, with huge queues in the Eurostar terminal at Waterloo. Yet most passengers said the safety scare would not prevent them from using the service again.

All car shuttles through the tunnel were cancelled, and initial plans to transport passengers to ferry terminals on the coast were disrupted when bad weather meant that some ferry services did not run.

Dover was heavily congested as traffic was switched from the tunnel to the port and Eurotunnel chartered two planes to take passengers from Gatwick to Paris.

Anne Andrews, a French woman married to a Briton, had been booked to travel to Paris for an overnight stay, to return today.

"I've had to cancel the whole thing. I just tried to telephone my husband but I can't even hear him because of the [platform cleaning] machinery. I've got two people expecting me in Paris. I don't even have any English money. I really don't know what to do," she said.

Also stranded was Chiharu Machida, a Japanese tourist, one of a group of four who had planned to travel over to Paris yesterday.

"We just got here and found out. We don't know what to do. If we were European we could transfer another way but we don't know how to make a transfer. We think we are best to wait here."

The mood among most waiting passengers was one of resignation.

Retired railwayman Geoffrey Unthank, from York, who was making a Eurostar journey for the first time, was unfazed.

"It's very unfortunate, but these things happen. It certainly hasn't put me off travelling on Eurostar," he said.