'No guarantees' as Eurostar trains resume

Passengers left stranded by the Eurostar snow saga reacted with anger today as rail bosses resumed services - but told them they were still not guaranteed to get home for Christmas.

Travellers queued in their thousands to board the first journeys out of St Pancras International after three days of cancellations.



Amid chaotic scenes at the station, some spoke of their frustration that they were not guaranteed a seat, saying bosses still had "a lot to answer for".



The first batch of trains left the station as planned and services would operate on a "shuttle basis" to get as many people across the Channel as possible, a Eurostar spokeswoman said.



But when asked whether ticket-holders were guaranteed to get home in time for December 25, she said: "I cannot guarantee that, no."



Marc Stevens, 39, his wife and 18-month-old daughter were among thousands stuck after havoc was caused when snow got into the electrics of a number of trains.



Mr Stevens, an IT worker from Reading, Berkshire, who was due to travel to Paris on Saturday, said: "We are travelling with a young child yet we are not assured of a seat. It's been an appalling few days as we have missed out on seeing relatives who we had never met our daughter. We just want to go now."



Cedric Berger, 31, from Clapham, south London, was also due to travel back to Paris to see his family on Saturday.



"It's been annoying but I have been told I'm definitely getting on. It's the people that were going to travel today or tomorrow that might miss out on Christmas."



Mother-of-four Gisele Bulembi was in a particular rush to travel to visit her sister, who had broken both her legs.



Herding her children and Christmas presents through the queues, she also revealed that she was carrying a turkey to cook on December 25.



The 35-year-old, from Hackney, east London, said: "My sister lives in Brussels but she recently broke both legs and cannot do any cooking.



"It's difficult enough carrying all this stuff. The fact we might not even get a train just makes things worse."



Angeliki Pollato and Bryan Field, who were travelling to Italy for Christmas, said rail bosses should have been prepared for the big chill.



American Mr Field, 33, a physics professor at Durham University, said: "It's amazing how a little bit of snow causes complete breakdown.



"Why aren't the British prepared? We have lost £200 to £300 now in hotel fees. I hope we will be reimbursed."



Daniel Sharp, 29, from Finsbury Park, north London, was forced to postpone his weekend plans to visit his girlfriend in southern France.



Before boarding the 7.30am train across the Channel, he said: "I'm glad to be getting across to see her at last, but am highly unsure that I will now be getting back to Britain for Christmas.



"They definitely have a lot to answer for."



Amid a police presence, scenes remained calm as queues stretched the length of the station.



Matthias Maher, a Eurostar official, had the unenviable task of telling fed-up passengers they were not guaranteed to travel - despite turning up at the railway station in the early hours.



On average, 15,000 people travel from St Pancras each day.



"We are looking at running extra trains," said Mr Maher. "But it is very much dependent on the weather.



"There is just no way of guaranteeing seats for the people here. That's a difficult thing."



John Mitchell, 42, and his family, from Balham, south London, were among those told they may be turned away.



Travelling with his two sons and wife, Fabienne, he said: "We are not guaranteed but we are staying confident. I have been told there will probably be nine trains so I am hopeful we will be with family in Paris by tonight."



More than 2,000 passengers were trapped on trains overnight in the Channel Tunnel on Friday.



A limited service was resuming for passengers who had tickets for December 19 and 20, and was then working through remaining ticket holders over the next few days.



Eurostar chief executive Richard Brown said he was "very, very sorry" about the breakdowns and that modifications to the trains were being tested.

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
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.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager - Commercial Cable & Wire - UK

    £60,000 - £75,000: Recruitment Genius: As a top tier supplier to the major Aer...

    ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    Day In a Page

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes