Thousands wait for Eurostar trains in London
Wednesday 23 December 2009
Thousands of Eurostar passengers desperate to travel before Christmas filled the London terminal on Wednesday, forming snaking queues that prompted the train operator to urge others to stay away.
Eurostar issued a statement advising passengers still stranded following a three-day shutdown of the cross-Channel service not to come to the station until after 1:00pm (1300 GMT) "as the trains are full until that time".
Long queues stretched outside St Pancras International as increasingly frustrated travellers gathered early in the hope of getting to the continent ahead of Christmas Eve on Thursday.
Arguments began breaking out between passengers amid confusion as to who would be given priority on the trains heading to Paris and Brussels, which only resumed a limited service on Tuesday after an unprecedented suspension.
A Eurostar spokeswoman said passengers had been urged to wait until the afternoon "because we don't want people to be standing in the cold. We want to avoid the frustration. It's quite busy this morning."
After those with tickets from the weekend were put on trains on Tuesday, Eurostar announced that customers due to travel anytime up to Thursday would be let on trains on Wednesday and Thursday.
Emmanuel Orejas, 41, a Belgian businessman who had been waiting in London for two days with his family, expressed frustration that he was not given priority over passengers who were due to travel later.
"We have been left without knowing anything for several days. And now they are opening the doors to all passengers, even those with tickets for Wednesday," he told AFP.
However, a Eurostar spokesman insisted that priority would be given to people with tickets for Monday and Tuesday, adding that they expected 15,000 to travel on Wednesday, including "everyone who is here" at the station.
The normally high-speed Channel Tunnel service was brought shuddering to a halt on Friday by what a British spokesman called a fall of "fluffier" than expected snow, stranding tens of thousands of people both sides of the Channel.
A limited service resumed Tuesday and was due to continue Wednesday and Thursday, with a full service not expected until Christmas Day on Friday.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Morgan Freeman on the riot-focused coverage of the Baltimore protests: 'F**k the media'
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 5 Length of pregnancy can vary by up to five weeks, scientists discover
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show
£32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...
£27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...
£24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...