Cross-channel trains suspended amid strike by French ferry workers – as it happened

Cross-channel trains suspended amid strike by French ferry workers – as it happened

Eurotunnel services suspended and Eurostar severely delayed after protesters gain entry to Calais terminal

8.33pm BST

Now that things seem to have calmed down in Calais, it seems like a good time to wrap up the blog. Here’s a summary of what happened their today.

8.27pm BST

Boats from Dover to Calais resumed at about 6pm, a spokesman for P&O said. But there is a backlog which the shipping company will work overnight to clear.

Dan Bridget, the spokesman for P&O, said: “The aspiration is by tomorrow we should be back to normal. Obviously we will be in touch with passengers if that’s not the case.”

7.52pm BST

By coincidence. the National Crime Agency warned that the number of migrants trying to sneak into Britain from Calais is set to increase.

The figure is set to grow because of the “sheer scale” of migrants in the French port town, the agency said. Detection of “irregular migrants” more than doubled in the UK last year and “this is likely to continue on an upward trend”, it concluded.

7.37pm BST

The Foreign Office has updated its advice to Britons travelling to France through the port of Calais. It is warning drivers to keep doors locked in slow-moving traffic and make sure to lock up when they park their vehicles. The warning says:

Following industrial action at both Calais Port and at Eurotunnel in Coquelles, cross channel services including Eurostar have been disrupted. Check the status of your booking with your operator before leaving home.

There are large numbers of illegal migrants in and around Calais, who may seek to enter the UK illegally. Although local police patrols have been reinforced, you should keep vehicle doors locked in slow moving traffic and secure your vehicle when it is left unattended.

7.32pm BST

This footage, uploaded by BBC News, shows migrants desperate to reach Britain hopping into the back of lorries crawling down roads to the port of Calais.

Chris Cary, a lorry driver, earlier told the Guardian that would-be migrants had tried to leap aboard his curtainside lorry as he drove around Calais. Paula and Bill Brady, two pensioners from Shrewsbury who were returning from holiday in France, also described seeing men waiting by the side of the road for vehicles they could leap aboard.

7.02pm BST

These are the latest pictures from St Pancras station, the London terminal of the Eurostar service. Passengers hoping to reach France are stuck after Eurostar cancelled its trains for the rest of the day.

6.55pm BST

Eurostar says its workers have managed to make an assessment of the damage caused to its tracks by fires started by striking French sailors.

The fire has damaged parts of the track used by our trains, engineers will work on repairs overnight and services will resume tomorrow.

6.43pm BST

Philippe Mignonet, the deputy mayor of Calais, has reiterated calls from French politicians for the border to be moved from northern France to Britain.

Such a move would make British authorities responsible for the migrants trying to cross the Channel and start a new life in the UK. Mignonet told the BBC:

Calais is not the destination. As you’ve heard, (migrants) want to get into trucks, they want to get to England.

England has got to realise that it is not our responsibility. The English border is in Calais and I’m requesting, such as (Calais mayor) Natacha Bouchart, for the border to be transferred back in Dover and in Folkestone.

6.10pm BST

Hundreds of lorries are parked up along the M20 southbound towards the port of Dover as part of Kent police’s Operation Stack.

The contingency plan effectively turns the motorway into one long, narrow lorry park while there are disruptions to sea travel between Dover and Calais.

5.59pm BST

These are the departure boards at London St Pancras station’s Eurostar terminal. The one consistent message? Cancelled

All #eurostar trains to Paris cancelled.

5.57pm BST

What is the cause of today’s disruption? French sailors are protesting plans to sell off two of their employer’s ferries to a rival firm. AFP has more details:

The sailors, from the French ferry company MyFerryLink, were protesting plans by Eurotunnel to sell two of their ferries to rival firm DFDS.

Eurotunnel announced in May it was halting its operational partnership with MyFerryLink due to legal complications, and this month decided to sell its ferries to Danish group DFDS.

5.38pm BST

Chris Cary, a truck driver, has been stuck in Calais for nearly 14 hours with a load of energy drinks. He had hoped to catch a ferry back to Dover in the early hours of this morning, but found himself trapped when the terminal closed.

He said he’s one of seven or eight drivers from the same haulage company, MJD, who are stuck on either side of the Channel due to the industrial action. Both refugees and striking workers have tried to attack his lorry, he said.

The life of a trucker stranded in Calais

4.59pm BST

Here are some more pictures of migrants trying to get into vehicles they hope might bring them across the Channel. Calais is host to thousands of people who have fled their home countries and want to start a new life in the West.

4.45pm BST

Paris-bound passengers at St Pancras International continue to express their frustration and disappointment.

Steve Anastasiadis, an advertising worker on holiday with his family of five from Sydney rued the fact that the dinner that had been waiting for them at friends in Paris would now be ruined.

Little signal in St Pancras as travellers take to their laptops and smart phones trying to rebook tickets.

4.40pm BST

Ola Odugbesan, a 59-year-old physician from Atlanta explained that he had been trapped on a Eurostar for two hours at st Pancras with little information about what was going on.

“I’m visiting from the States and I think it’s outrageous the way Eurostar have treated their passengers,” he said.

Valiant attempts of police man to be heard in St Pancras chaos. #eurostar

At one point a community support officer told the swelling crowds: “Anyone who needs to get to Paris today there are no ferries and the tunnel is closed. The best advice is to find an alternative as quickly as possible.”

4.37pm BST

There were chaotic scenes at St Pancras in London where angry people looking to take the Eurostar this afternoon were told that all services had been cancelled “due to a fire caused by activists in the euro tunnel”.

Community support police provided support to Eurostar staff to explain to the situation, explaining that damage had to be assessed before any trains could leave.

Lots of tears, anguish and frenzied internet activity here at St Pancras. All #Eurostar trains have been cancelled.

As the increasingly disgruntled crowds gathered around harassed looking staff they were told the ticket office was closing and all exchanges had to be made online.

But clients complained that they had no computers or connection, others said that the site kept crashing under the weight of demand.

4.31pm BST

Eurostar has an online form for passengers whose train has been cancelled or if the company has advised to postpone travel to exchange or refund tickets. It can be found here.

4.27pm BST

My colleague Damien Gayle has spoken to a couple from Shrewsbury who are stuck in a hotel in the French port after they discovered the ferry terminal was blocked. He writes:

Paula and Bill Brady said they were was no way off the motorway once they reached the port and, after finding themselves on the road to Belgium, they turned back to Calais.

As they returned they saw hundreds of migrants by the sides of the snarled up motorway trying to find their way into and onto vehicles they though might be bound for Britain.

@POferries Hello – my parents are in Calais waiting to cross. If they can get a hotel, can they use their ferry tickets tomorrow?

4.24pm BST

Travellers in Calais are posting images and sharing their experiences of the gridlock on social media. Here’s a selection of tweets.

From Chris Cary, a British lorry driver

The life of a trucker stranded in Calais


No movement here for a few hours #Calais

4.07pm BST

Transport companies have been forced to suspend services to Calais due to the strike by employees of the French ferry company MyFerryLink, who are protesting against plans to sell two of their ferries to rival firm DFDS.

The action has caused severe disruption on both sides of the Channel. In the UK, police implemented Operation Stack, where lorries are parked on the M20 in Kent and non-freight traffic diverted off the motorway, as freight traffic on the roads approaching the Port of Dover increases.

TRAFFIC: #OpStack is likely to remain in place on the #M20 through the night and into tomorrow due to industrial action in #Calais

If your journey is not essential, we recommend that you postpone your trip today. ^LD

We are currently unable to run any trains through the tunnel due to a fire outside caused by @MyFerryLink demonstrators. Updates to follow.

Dover-Calais: Services are still suspended due to the industrial action at the Port of Calais. Proceed to port to be transferred to Dunkirk.

[Calais] Based on current information we hope to commence operation at approx. 19h30 in Calais. Next update at 16h30

[Calais] Calais Port closed due to Industrial Action by MFL. Currently no ships movements in Port.

3.52pm BST

There are some incredible images coming into the Guardian picture desk of the unfolding chaos in Calais. Here’s a selection:

3.47pm BST

Welcome to the live coverage of the travel chaos sparked by a chaotic combination of protest and industrial action in Calais.

The UK’s main transport links to the continent have been left at a standstill after protesters in the French port “broke into” the channel tunnel, prompting all Eurotunnel services to be suspended for safety reasons.


Continue reading…

Source: Guardian Transport

Cross-channel trains suspended amid strike by French ferry workers – as it happened” target=”_blank”>Cross-channel trains suspended amid strike by French ferry workers – as it happened