Eurostar plans a 30 million pound upgrade to brush up its winter service. This comes after a review of failures linked to weather: five of the company’s high-speed trains broke down in the tunnel linking France and Britain, before Christmas. Passengers were trapped for hours without food, water, air-conditioning or toilets.
The company said it would spend the 34 million euros over the next year and a half on new communications, rescue locomotives and weather proofing, and it apologised.
Eurostar CEO, Richard Brown said: “We realise we let a number, a large number of our passengers down very badly. We are very sorry that we did that but we accept all of the report’s recommendations and we have committed ourselves to taking forward and implementing them as fast as we can. That’s our absolute priority: going forward.”
The review ordered by the British and French governments raised serious concerns about emergency procedures and engines not protected from cold conditions.
Eurotunnel executive Christopher Garnett said: “The recommendations fall into three parts. Clearly number one: do something about the maintenance. Don’t let your trains break down. The next section covers what we call the evacuation and rescue, that if a train does get stuck in a tunnel, what are the learning points and what needs to be done? And the third comes on to the point how you look after your passengers who can’t travel.”
At least 2,000 pre-Christmas rail users were trapped in the tunnel for up to five hours. A disabled passenger said when they finally got to London no one from Eurostar was there. A three-day suspension of services affected some 40,000 other customers.
The company is jointly French, Belgian and British government-owned.