THE EASTER getaway got off to a frustrating start for thousands of Eurostar passengers, as the operator suspended services for five hours.
About 200 travellers were unable to board their trains at Gare du Nord in Paris as scheduled yesterday and were put up in hotels overnight.
On the eve of one of the service’s busiest weekends, Eurostar was forced to halt services for more than five hours after a death on the line south of Lille was followed by a breakdown in the tunnel.
Eurostar apologised for the delays on its official Twitter account, saying: “We would like to apologise for the severe delays today due to an earlier fatality and ongoing infrastructure problems”.
Services were affected between Paris, London, Calais, Folkestone and Brussels. The BBC has reported that 14 out of the 44 Eurostar trains due to run yesterday had to be cancelled.
This weekend, Eurostar expects more than 130,000 passengers to use its services.
Eurostar said it expects services to return to normal this morning.
SNCF services out of Lyon were also disrupted yesterday evening following an attack on an employee, which prompted colleagues to walkout over safety fears.
The worker needed hospital treatment after being assaulted by three people at the station.
The walkout meant some trains in and out of Lyon Part-Dieu Lyon Perrach were cancelled, while others were delayed for up to an hour.
Meanwhile, millions of motorists are expected to take to the the roads at the start of the long Easter weekend. Up to 3.6 million cars are expected to hit the autoroutes of France on what is traditionally one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
Transport authorities have warned that routes in Île-de-France will be particularly busy all weekend, and have also said that drivers should allow for more traffic than usual on major routes in central and western parts of the country.
They have advised motorists, where possible, to avoid travel in and around cities between 9am and 11am, and on major connecting routes between 11am and 5pm.
Traffic is also expected to be heavy between 3pm and 7pm on Monday.
And police have reminded motorists in France that 5,272 speed cameras are operating on main roads in France, and advised drivers to stick to the speed limit.