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Europe

Eurotunnel blames Eurostar over Channel shutdown

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-25

The Channel tunnel operator has blamed Eurostar staff for violating safety procedures during the incident that blocked traffic last week. Both companies have been accused of negligence.

AFP - Eurotunnel on Friday accused Eurostar staff of not following safety rules when evacuating passengers from high speed trains that broke down in the tunnel under the Channel last weekend.

The tunnel operator strongly rejected suggestions that it contributed to the chaos when 2,000 passengers were trapped for a night in five trains that broke down in the tunnel between Britain and France on December 18.

"We have, here and there, been unjustly suspected of not acting as we should have done" after the breakdown, Eurotunnel said in a statement.

Eurotunnel said the time it took to evacuate the passengers "was unfortunately extended because the Eurostar teams, in complete violation of the safety procedures, asked passengers to take their bags with them."

The tunnel group also criticised Eurostar's communications with the passengers.

"Although in continued contact with our teams, it is clear that the Eurostar teams obviously did not give the right information to passengers."

The statement added that this had "led to a movement of worry" in the affected trains where the passengers had no food or water.

Eurostar has already admitted a communications failure and promised refunds to passengers while also laying some of the blame on Eurotunnel which it said was responsible for evacuating trains and relaying information to passengers in the tunnel.

Some passengers spent 17 hours trapped in the tunnel when their trains broke down, due to short circuits caused by snow filtering into the engine compartments and melting once inside the tunnel.

A France-British Intergovernmental Commission that supervises traffic through the tunnel on Thursday said that neither operator had provided enough information to the passengers.

The commission called on Eurostar and Eurotunnel to improve their communication and to "cooperate fully" with investigations into the breakdown which caused travel chaos in Britain and France.

Date created : 2009-12-25

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