Brexit, Eurostar cancellations and Dover delays: What’s behind the French and UK travel chaos?

A queue of Eurostar travellers at Gare Du Nord on Sunday 24 July
A queue of Eurostar travellers at Gare Du Nord on Sunday 24 July Copyright Thomas Reilly / twitter
Copyright Thomas Reilly / twitter
By Charlotte Elton
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Travellers to and from France faced a nightmarish weekend after Eurostar cancelled services and Eurotunnel drivers endured six hour delays.


Thousands of Eurostar passengers faced travel “bedlam” on Sunday after multiple services were delayed or cancelled.

Temporary line closures between Paris and Lille forced Eurostar to scrap two trains on Sunday night, leaving would-be travellers packed into an overflowing departure lounge at Paris’s Gare du Nord.

Furious passengers slammed the “disgraceful” delays as they scrambled to get tickets on outbound trains.

The delay is the latest issue to beset holidaymakers to France, after drivers catching the ferry or Eurotunnel trains to France endured bumper-to-bumper gridlock and lengthy delays.

What’s going on with the Eurostar?

Many Eurostar passengers faced severe delays on Sunday night as the provider cancelled two trains from Paris to London.

Subsequent services were delayed by up to four hours as stranded passengers desperately attempted to rebook. At the other end of the line, travellers at St Pancras also reported lengthy queues.

Travellers took to social media to vent their fury.

“Train cancelled this evening and the next one not available until tomorrow night. Disgraceful,” wrote one user.

“Yikes, the Eurostar disaster is real,” wrote another.

“20.00 train cancelled and passengers moved to 20.30; 20.30 train delayed until 22.30… if they cancel this one, where will they put us all?”

Images from Gare Du Nord show weary travellers lying on the floor of the station while awaiting updates.

In a video posted to Twitter, user Daniel Robinson expressed fears he would be stuck at Gare du Nord until Monday.

“Three hours delay, possibly four, possibly going to have to stay overnight, this is just bedlam,” he said.

What’s going on at the Port of Dover?

The Eurostar chaos followed a weekend of hell for drivers at Dover and nearby Folkestone in Kent.

Over the weekend, cross-channel ferry passengers at the Port of Dover faced queues of up to 11 hours.

More than 30,000 cars passed through the port on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, serviced by between six and nine ticket booths.

Eurotunnel ticket-holders faced an equally dire situation: the AA branded Folkestone the new “hotspot of holiday hell” after the gridlock trapped thousands of would-be holidaymakers in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

British Foreign Minister Liz Truss attributed the travel nightmare to French passport control staff shortages.


However, French Transport Minister Clement Beaune tweeted that his country was "not responsible" for the extra passport checks required after Brexit.

British passport holders now need to have their passports stamped before they board the ferry or Eurotunnel train.

It’s a very vulnerable situation, it takes very little to cause further issues.
Toby Howe
Senior Highway Manager at Kent county council.

Chaos had subsided as of Monday morning. However, the traffic is likely to build again next weekend, said Toby Howe, the senior highway manager at Kent county council.

“(Next weekend) is the second busiest getaway weekend of the summer holidays,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“As we’ve just found out the weekend just gone, traffic numbers travelling across the Channel were back to pre-pandemic levels and with the increased checks it is slower to get through, so it takes very little to cause those tailbacks.”


“It’s a very vulnerable situation, it takes very little to cause further issues.”

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