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Eurotunnel cancels tickets after air-conditioning failure causes disruption

Passengers faced delays of up to six-and-a-half hours on Thursday when air-conditioning units failed on trains.

Cross-Channel rail operator Eurotunnel has cancelled thousands of tickets after “extreme temperatures” caused major disruption.

The firm took the “unprecedented decision” to stop passengers from travelling on Friday if they were due to return on the same day or Saturday in a bid to ease long queues.

Passengers faced delays of up to six-and-a-half hours on Thursday when air-conditioning units failed on trains.

The English end of the Folkestone-Calais link was worst affected, with travellers forced to queue for 90 minutes just to check in and a further five hours for the next available slot, according to the operator.

Eurotunnel warned that ferry companies “do not have availability to take any of our customers”.

Passengers were urged to stock up with drinking water before arrival as there were long queues to check in with no access to facilities.

It is one of the busiest weeks of the year for cross-Channel travel as the start of many school summer holidays leads to a surge in family trips.

A Eurotunnel spokesman said: “Due to the exceptional and prolonged temperatures, some of the air-conditioning units on board our shuttles are struggling to produce sufficient cool air.

“Our priority is customer well-being and safety so we are unable to board vehicles to these carriages.”

Sarah-Jane Morgan, a digital merchandising manager going on holiday to the Loire Valley with her husband, was delayed by four hours.

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Queues for the Eurotunnel in Folkestone (Gareth Fuller/PA)

She said passengers were “getting very annoyed” as they waited in a holding where staff had “no information”.

The 34-year-old from London told the Press Association: “You could hear children crying probably due to the heat and being stuck, and lots of people with dogs were very worried.

“I think people are willing to accept that things go wrong but lack of communication causes anxiety and in turn anger and frustration.”

When she finally boarded a train the temperature was 36C – which she described as “pretty horrific”.

Paul Johnson, managing director of a construction company in Dover, said people were “trying to find shade wherever they can” and were “crowding into the packed terminal building”.

He uses Eurotunnel twice a month and claimed “the service levels this year are in steady decline, this isn’t a one-off”.

He added: “Any normal business would lose its custom and heads would roll for this, but they are answerable to no-one.”

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