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Eurotunnel passengers stranded inside for hours after train issue

Travellers were eventually evacuated, having to leave their cars and walk down a service tunnel to a replacement cargo train

A train full of Eurotunnel passengers was evacuated yesterday (August 23) during a five-hour delay inside the tunnel caused by alarms sounding within the vehicle Pic: Gary Perkin / Shutterstock

Eurotunnel passengers found themselves stuck inside the Channel Tunnel from Calais to Folkestone for around five hours yesterday (August 23) after alarms sounded inside their train. 

Travellers were eventually evacuated and had to abandon their vehicles and walk through the central service tunnel to a cargo train which took them to Folkestone.

The affected passengers were travelling on the 15:50 service from Calais, when alarms sounded and the train stopped for a full inspection.

One of the evacuees, Michael Harrison, told PA news agency: “Approximately 10 minutes in the lights went out and the train stopped.

Mr Harrison said they were told "they needed to investigate an issue with the wheels", which "took approximately one and a half hours for them to investigate and obviously not find anything.”

The train did start moving but “it happened again, at which time we waited a further couple of hours to decide they couldn’t see a problem but had to evacuate the train.

"After further waiting we left the train through the emergency link tunnel to the service tunnel.

"We then walked approximately 10 minutes [for] a train in front of the stricken train.” The passengers eventually boarded this replacement service at 20:22. 

"This was a bus carriage where we got transported to Folkestone,” Mr Harrison said. “That train then stopped as it couldn't get traction, presumably as it was long and had no weight on it. There were gasps of incredulity when that was announced.

"We finally arrived in Folkestone six hours after boarding."

‘Walking into the abyss’

Another evacuee, Sarah Fellows, told PA that: “The service tunnel was terrifying. It was like a disaster movie. You were just walking into the abyss and not knowing what was happening. We all had to stay under the sea in this big queue. 

“There was a woman crying in the tunnel, another woman having a panic attack who was travelling alone.”

Others complained of the heat in the tunnel and the replacement train, where there was no air conditioning.

Another passenger told PA: "If I've got a gripe it's that they knew several-hundred people were arriving at Folkestone who hadn't eaten for five, six or more hours and there was absolutely nothing for us here,” they added.

"Just huge queues for Burger King."

A Eurotunnel Le Shuttle spokesperson said during the evening that: “A train has broken down in the tunnel and we are in the process of transferring customers to a separate passenger shuttle via the service tunnel, to return to our Folkestone terminal.

"We apologise sincerely for this inconvenience."

The operator also advised people travelling from Calais to postpone their trip until after 06:00 this morning (August 24), as images on social media showed a backlog of traffic queueing at the terminal late into the evening.

The Eurotunnel, at 31 miles long, is the longest railway tunnel in the world, with the longest underwater section of any tunnel in the world.

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