‘Inhumane’ conditions as Eurostar passengers stranded for eight hours without toilets or power

1 December 2023, 09:19

Engineers were called to the scene after an overhead cable failing left 700 passengers without power or working toilets.
Engineers were called to the scene after an overhead cable failing left 700 passengers without power or working toilets. Picture: Twitter & Alamy

By Sam Rucker

Around 700 train passengers were left without working toilets and electricity for around eight hours after a Eurostar service broke down in Kent.

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The train, heading for Amsterdam, left London St Pancras at 8.16am, but completely broke down just half an hour later, outside the Channel Tunnel.

A passenger on board described conditions as “inhumane” on X/Twitter.

It was not until 4.10pm, around eight hours after the train stopped, that Eurostar announced: “The train is now on the move and arrangements are being made to bring passengers back to London.”

The rail operator said the incident was caused by an overhead cable failing.

In a statement, Eurostar said: “There are around 700 passengers and crew on board. They are confirmed to be safe.

"Following a complicated situation due to the position of the train and the track infrastructure, it's meant that certain safety procedures had to be adhered to before we could move the train.

"Eurostar are sorry for issues caused that customers have experienced today."

Seven hours after the train halted, one of the passengers, Ben Williams, showed his surprise at the lack of preparation.

“Surely this sort of thing has happened before,” Mr Williams told the Independent. “They must have some kind of contingency plan in place so that people can use toilets properly and maybe get given some bottles of water and food after three or four hours?

“Unfortunately for the staff on the train, no one’s given them logistical support from head office. So they’re just having to deal with p***ed off customers, basically.”

He went on to describe conditions on the train, saying staff were unable to make overhead announcements, with passengers becoming desperate for the toilet.

“To be honest, I’ve been pacing myself just because obviously the toilets aren’t functioning,” Mr Williams said.

He continued: “I think the staff are all very stressed themselves, and I don’t think they’re being kept very well up to date.

“We were offered one free food item that was after we’d been stationary for about four or five hours."

All those on board were given additional refreshments and enhanced compensation once they returned to St Pancras, according to Eurostar.

Stuart Haggas took to Twitter/X, complaining about the service once he finally arrived back in London:

The London-Amsterdam Eurostar service made headlines earlier this week with an announcement cancelling all journeys between the Dutch and UK capital for six months, while a new terminal is built in the Netherlands.

Existing infrastructure, where British passengers’ passports are currently checked, will be demolished to make way for a refurbishment.

During that time, Eurostar trains will run empty from Amsterdam to Brussels, where London-bound passengers will be able to board.