Thousands of passengers delayed after breakdown near Tunnel

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The Independent Online

Thousands of passengers on the Eurostar route between Brussels, Paris and London were stranded for up to six hours overnight after a commuter train broke down on the tracks, the cross­channel rail company said.

The breakdown of a Connex commuter train at Sevenoaks, 20 miles southeast of London, forced Eurostar trains to share a single track to and from London.

The backlog of delayed trains grew worse as the evening wore on and four trains carrying 760 passengers each ­ which should have arrived before midnight ­ were stuck on tracks outside the London Waterloo terminal as the sun rose.

The final train, which should have arrived from Paris at 11:43 p.m. Sunday, finally pulled in shortly after 5:30 a.m.

Accountant Peter Jackson, 53, said passengers were offered no refreshments during the long wait.

"We spent about three hours waiting on the tracks in sight of Waterloo station.

"Then, if that wasn't frustrating enough, once we finally got off we had to wait two hours for a cab."

Delayed passengers were offered free taxis or a free night in a hotel at Eurostar's expense.

Three services to Paris and one to Brussels were canceled Monday morning in the aftermath of the breakdown, and services were returning to normal after 9:00 a.m. Only minor delays were expected up to the early afternoon, a Eurostar spokesman said.

Eurostar, launched in 1994, operates trains between London and continental European under the English Channel. The journey from London to Paris of Brussels usually takes about three hours.

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