An inquiry into the chaos that hit rail passengers travelling between mainland Europe and the UK before Christmas has revealed ‘serious concerns’ about Eurostar’s ability to evacuate passengers in an emergency.
Thousands of passengers were stranded for up to 16 hours, when trains failed under the English channel.
An independent report picked out the failure of a Disneyland Paris service for particular attention.
Inquiry co-Chairman Christopher Garnett said: “We’re talking about 11 hours that this whole process has taken to rescue the passengers in not a good situation, but at the same time in appalling weather conditions. The experience of the Disney train, and of the other trains, but the Disney train is the worst example has led us to a lot of the recommendations that we make in our report.”
In all, five trains broke down when snow interefered with their electric motors.
“A number of measures should be in place before next winter — I stress before next winter — to avoid as far as possible, a repeat of incidents like these. That involves improving day-to-day maintenance, particularly the adjustment of snow-protection screens, and to check that the engine compartment doors are watertight and satisfactory. That perhaps was not the case with all the doors,” said co-chairman of the inquiry Claude Gressier.
The report said Eurostar’s emergency rescue procedures must get passengers out far more quickly and with more consideration than was the case before Christmas.
Eurostar accepted that it had handled the disruption badly and apologised to its passengers.