Wrong kind of snow in tunnel...

CHRISTIAN WOLMAR

Transport Correspondent

About 1,000 passengers on two Eurostar trains were stuck in the Channel Tunnel for several hours on Monday as a result of technical problems caused by snow and ice, raising doubts about the ability of the tunnel to cope with extreme weather conditions.

One full train of 800 passengers which set out at 1pm on Monday did not reach Paris until 4am yesterday, taking 15 hours for a journey that should have taken three. They were stuck in the tunnel for three hours and at one point the emergency batteries ran low, leaving them in darkness. Eventually, after the train was rescued, they transferred by bus to a conventional train at Calais.

A second group of more than150 people, who left London just before 9am on a train to Brussels took nine hours to reach Calais, after being stuck first on British tracks and then in the tunnel for two hours.

Both trains failed completely and had to be hauled out of the tunnel by locomotives which are kept available for the task.

The Le Shuttle tourist service for cars between Folkestone and Calais was also cancelled for much of Monday. Already, by 8.30am on Monday many trains had been delayed because a Shuttle train failed at the French portal, causing the blockage of one of the two lines through the tunnel.

The delays and cancellations are a further setback to the troubled tunnel's owner, Eurotunnel - which is at present not paying interest on pounds 8bn debts - as one of its key selling points has been its ability to operate reliably during the winter months when Channel crossings are disrupted by the weather. The problem seems to be that the delicate electronics of the trains and tunnel cannot withstand the potent mix of snow, salt and ice which is brought into the tunnel during periods of extreme cold.

But a spokeswoman for Eurotunnel defended the tunnel: "The ferries were cancelled and were unable to dock, the motorways blocked, and the Paris airports were closed. Although the tunnel is protected, the extreme weather conditions outside caused severe problems but we did manage to stay open throughout, even if we weren't providing a full service." She emphasised that the tunnel had operated largely without problems during the previous bouts of poor weather this winter but in this case, "snow, ice and moisture carried into the tunnel to create problems when combined with the micro climate of the tunnel."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test