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South East MEP Sharon Bowles Calls for Eurostar Overhaul

December 21, 2009 3:20 PM

Lib Dem MEP Sharon Bowles has called for an overhaul of Eurostar following weekend failures of its service which left thousands of passengers trapped in the Channel Tunnel and up to 60,000 people stranded. Sharon Bowles said: "Having seen the distress of people who were trapped in the Channel Tunnel over the weekend, some for up to seven hours, it is imperative that Eurostar gets its act together."

Following the breakdown of five trains in the Channel Tunnel due to a reported electrical failure, Eurostar announced a succession of cancellations which left many Brits unable to return to the UK. Sharon Bowles said: "I know from personal experience that breakdowns and other problems can cause very long delays on Eurostar. At one of the busiest times of year, I find it very worrying that there were not adequate emergency provisions."

It has been reported that passengers who were trapped on the broken trains, some for up to 16 hours in total, were not provided with food. Sharon Bowles said: "Compensation is being given to passengers but a small amount of money and a free ticket does not compensate for a ruined holiday."

Sharon Bowles has a successful track record of campaigning for better Eurostar services. Now she has this emergency provisions issue in her sights. "Eurostar must run a reliable service and have better contingency plans in place of things go wrong. Unforeseen problems do happen, for example; long delays after the Channel Tunnel fires in 1996, 2006 and 2008. Other breakdowns, accidents and tragedies have also led to long delays. There is also a huge knock-on effect on transport with Kent, as ever, bearing both the brunt and the cost of these Eurostar delays."