Channel rail freight halted over refugee break-ins

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The Independent Online

Freight services through the Channel Tunnel were suspended indefinitely yesterday as asylum-seekers continued to break into a French rail depot.

Freight services through the Channel Tunnel were suspended indefinitely yesterday as asylum-seekers continued to break into a French rail depot.

Services from Calais were stopped over the weekend after 200 people stormed the yard. French rail operator SNCF said yesterday the situation had not changed.

The operator said that 50 people broke into the site whenever a new train was about to leave, preventing trains from getting to Britain. It complained the French government was unwilling to provide more policing to prevent the break-ins.

SNCF tried to get four trains through yesterday but only one managed to get into the tunnel because asylum-seekers were swarming over the trains.

The rail freight company English Welsh & Scottish Railway (EWS) has lost £6m because of the delays, with more than 1,700 of its services cancelled. Eurostar and Shuttle services, which also carry freight lorries, have been unaffected.

A spokeswoman for SNCF said: "The situation has not changed since Friday and services are still suspended. We don't know when they will start again."

SNCF has 15 police officers and five security staff trying to stop the asylum-seekers housed at the Sangatte Red Cross centre on the outskirts of Calais, a spokesman for EWS said.

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