Swiss Railways train in Zurich Station
At the end of the 2023 Xmas & New Year holiday period, the Eurostar service to and from London St Pancras was cancelled for the best part of a day. These incidents both occurred during the busiest time of year: – one just before the Xmas holiday and the other just before the New Year Holiday. Several thousand people were left stranded and had their holiday travel plans ruined. In both cases, we have to ask – are Eurostar maintaining their trains in a good condition and are HS1 looking after the infrastructure? We also have to ask them both why it took so long to get services back to normal and rescue passengers from a stranded train?
One morning, a few days before Xmas, the overhead wires came down on an outbound Eurostar while it was approaching the channel tunnel near Folkestone. Passengers were trapped in the train for almost 7 hours, before it was rescued and taken back to St Pancras. Q1: Why does it take so long to attach another locomotive to pull the broken-down train to the nearest suitable station? Q2: Are they trying to save money by not paying for a stand-by locomotive which could rescue the train? Q3 Why were Eurostar and HS1 unable to keep passengers better informed and supply them better with refreshments?
Then, early one morning, a few days before New Years Eve, both tunnels where the line crosses under the Thames were completely flooded. This blocked both lines for the rest of the day. This time, at least, trains were cancelled before any of them got stuck on the track. While the cause of the flooding, is still not clear, it is understood that the fire alarm system may have turned on an emergency water supply designed to put out fires in the tunnel. Q4: Why were both tunnels flooded at the same time? Q5: Are HS1 maintaining their infrastructure adequately, given the very high track access charges paid by Eurostar?
COULD STRATFORD, ASHFORD & EBBSFLEET BE PLACED ON STANDBY & OPENED UP DURING EMERGENCIES ?
These are 3 the empty stations between London and the Channel Tunnel that could be used by Eurostar in an emergency. Surely, staff could be re-deployed to one or more of these stations so that trains can be brought back to a better place. Passengers could then be more easily looked after, provided with refreshments and alternative transport options.