Passengers and Eurostar staff breathed a collective sigh of relief when cross-channel passenger trains finally began running again, after three days of paralysis.
Tens of thousands were stranded because trains failed in wintry conditions.
But the resumed service was not at full strength. Of the normal 40,000 passengers Eurostar carries each day, the company managed to shift 26,000. 70,000 people have been affected by the three-day stoppage.
In Brussels, one mother had praise for her children:
“They’ve been really good. Actually they coped really well, probably better than I have. I couldn’t stop crying for three days. I’m just trying to get home for Christmas. I thought we were going to spend Christmas in Brussels,” she said.
The company said it was clearing the backlog of stranded passengers quicker than expected, but that did not stop hundreds of people in London venting their anger at Eurostar staff, furious at what they claimed was a lack of information.
One Irish passenger said her journey was already complicated enough without the cancellations:
“I am happy to get home at last, I have been stuck here since Saturday and I have a connection to make to Holyhead in Wales to get the ferry to Dublin in Ireland,” she said.
In 15 years of operation, the last few days have provided Eurostar with its biggest headache ever.
The company said the extreme temperature difference as the trains headed from sub-zero Northern France into the warm tunnel caused condensation to frazzle the electrics.
Eurostar has commissioned an independent review that will look into why the technology failed, and if there was a communication failure between the company and passengers.