An academic from Northern Ireland has described how a 90 minute journey became 14 hours of misery when he was caught up in the Channel Tunnel chaos.
Brian Stout (38), a lecturer in criminal justice at de Montfort University in Leicester, was returning on Eurostar on Friday from a conference in the south of France.
He boarded the train in Paris, which left at 7.13pm UK-time and was to arrive in London at around 8.43pm. Instead, his train ground to a halt for 14 hours after wintry weather caused it to break down.
The father-of-two, who comes from Holywood, but now lives in Leicestershire, said: “We were told about halfway through the journey that the train was coming to a stop as the train in front had broken down, but from that point on we didn’t receive very much information.
“The electricity went off but they had emergency lighting. They then said they had engineers working on our train, which was strange as they hadn’t said it had broken down. We were given a meal at the start of the journey, but there was absolutely no food served after the train stopped. They stopped serving alcoholic drinks, although we were told to help ourselves to water.
“But there were a lot of people who had it much worse. We chatted a bit amongst ourselves — there was a works Christmas party, some couples and a few Fulham football supporters. They were fed up but there was no trouble.
“However, there wasn’t much information. Staff had radios turned up so we were able to hear those — they weren’t withholding anything but there was no sense of a strategy to deal with whatever had gone wrong. I kept thinking, I am glad I don’t have my three-year-old and six-month-old with me.”
After 10 hours they were towed a short distance out of the tunnel, shuttled onto a minibus before reaching St Pancras around 11am on Saturday.
Mr Stout said his experiences were mild compared to around 2,000 others trapped in the trains on Friday night and Saturday, many of whom were left without food, drink or light and who also hit out at the lack of information available.