Train Breaks Down in Chunnel

A Eurostar train was stranded in the Channel tunnel for more than an hour this morning, The Guardian is reporting.

Several trains were canceled because of freezing temperatures, and the company was forced to offer full refunds or exchanges to all passengers who were due to travel.

The affected train left Brussels at 8:05 a.m. local time and was due to arrive at London St Pancras about two hours later. It had to be towed out of the tunnel by a service engine.

As a result, three subsequent trains that had left Paris, London and Brussels were turned back. Passengers on the 8.07am Paris-London train stranded in Calais said they were told they could take a ferry to England or return to Paris.

A spokeswoman for Eurostar said the stranded train was towed to Ashford and passengers were transferred on to a train for London that arrived at 12:19 p.m. It is not known why the train broke down but further details are expected to be released this afternoon. Breakdowns in December were caused by heavy snow.

The stranded train quickly had a domino effect, and by the early afternoon Eurostar was advising passengers whose travel was not essential to rebook their tickets or claim a full refund. A spokeswoman said passengers making essential trips should check in as normal but services could be canceled or delayed.

Angry travelers at the Gare du Nord complained that little information about the disrupted service had been given. The French journalist and commentator Agnès Poirier, speaking from the station's waiting lounge, said a "huge" queue had formed outside the Eurostar entrance and there were few staff to answer queries. "The Eurostar staff are very kind and sympathetic but their knowledge is very limited, they don't seem to be getting any feedback from the head office," she said.

There were familiar scenes at St Pancras in London, with long disgruntled queues snaking through the station. Passengers waiting in freezing temperatures were told a limited service would resume this afternoon.