Tags: channel | tunnel | power | outage

Channel Tunnel Power Outage Frustrates Bid to Clear Fire Backlog

Sunday, 18 Jan 2015 10:08 AM

Eurostar International Ltd. canceled 11 of its Channel Tunnel express services following what it said was a power outage in the sole tube left open after a fire yesterday, frustrating attempts to clear a backlog of stranded passengers.

Six trains from London plus two from Paris and three from Brussels were struck from the timetable after a two-hour shutdown led to delays, Eurostar spokeswoman Catherine Bayles said by telephone. While other services between the three cities will run as normal, people booked on the scrapped departures who don’t need to travel should rebook, she said.

Groupe Eurotunnel SA, which runs the 30-mile subsea link, said earlier that all Eurostar passengers affected after a smoldering truck on a shuttle train closed the tunnel yesterday would be able to complete their journeys today. Spokeswoman Fabienne Lissak said after the Eurostar announcement that while engineers are working to open the northbound tube where the fire occurred, there have been no issues on the other line.

“Eurostar is responsible for managing its trains,” Lissak said. “The tunnel is open and I have no information about a power issue. Traffic has been moving since this morning.”

The two companies disagreed about whether extra capacity had been granted to help move stranded passengers, with Eurotunnel saying that the planned 42 departures compared with a number “in the thirties” on a normal Sunday, and Eurostar saying that it would normally operate 45 trains.

Sprinkler System

Eurotunnel ran an initial train through the southbound tunnel at midnight to clear any gas pockets. The full shuttle service resumed at about 2 a.m., with trains running alternately north and south in batches of five to minimize delays, Lissak said. Eurostar services commenced after 6 a.m.

The 8:19 a.m. train from London arrived in Paris almost two hours late after waiting at the entrance to the tunnel.

The tunnel was saved from significant damage yesterday by the triggering of a sprinkler system after smoke from the stricken lorry activated carbon dioxide detectors, with the train soaked in water even before firefighters arrived, keeping temperatures below 50 degrees Celsius, according to Lissak.

The tunnel has suffered a number of fire-related shutdowns since opening in 1994, including a two-hour closure in 2012 and another spanning two days in 2008, when one tube was put out of action for five months. The events all involved trucks, some 1.5 million of which use the Folkestone-Calais shuttle each year.

Evacuation

Lissak confirmed that nobody was hurt in yesterday’s event, with the 38 truckers on the affected shuttle all escaping via the system’s service tube, together with the train driver, a guard and two rail mechanics. As many as 800 maintenance staff worked to get the tunnel open again yesterday, she said.

Customers booked either yesterday or today whose journeys were disrupted can change their booking for free in the next 60 days for travel in the next four months, or get a refund.

There was no backlog at shuttle terminals as vehicles were diverted to Eurotunnel’s MyFerryLink sailings between Dover and Calais. The Paris-based company said last week it was seeking a buyer for the ferry arm after a U.K. court upheld a regulator’s decision blocking it from owning the unit on antitrust grounds.


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Eurostar International Ltd. canceled 11 of its Channel Tunnel express services following what it said was a power outage in the sole tube left open after a fire yesterday, frustrating attempts to clear a backlog of stranded passengers.Six trains from London plus two from...
channel, tunnel, power, outage
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2015-08-18
Sunday, 18 Jan 2015 10:08 AM
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