Officials rap Eurostar, Eurotunnel over Channel shutdown
Fri, Dec 25, 2009

LONDON - Eurostar and Eurotunnel, the operators of rail services through the Channel Tunnel, did not provide enough information to travellers during this week's service shutdown, officials said Thursday.

The verdict came from the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission (IGC), the Franco-British body that supervises traffic through the tunnel and which met Wednesday to discuss the chaotic events of recent days.

The normally high-speed Eurostar rail service was brought to a standstill Friday when extreme weather conditions caused trains to break down.

Five trains were stuck in the tunnel overnight.

The IGC meeting "noted that the operation's current organisation does not respond to passengers' information needs and demands that the two firms (Eurostar and Eurotunnel) jointly outline appropriate remedies in this respect," according to official conclusions from the meeting.

It also called on Eurostar and Eurotunnel -- which manages the tunnel infrastructure and operates a drive-on rail shuttle across the Channel -- to "cooperate fully" with investigations into what went wrong.

In response, a Eurotunnel spokesman said: "We note the comments of the IGC.

"Eurotunnel mobilised all its resources on Friday night to ensure the safe rescue of the passengers of the five Eurostar trains."

A Eurostar spokesman added: "We welcome the comments from the Intergovernmental Commission and continue to work with Christopher Garnett and Claude Gressier on the independent review they are undertaking."

A limited Eurostar service has been running since Tuesday.

Eurostar said it would run a "near normal" service with more than 90 percent of trains running as normal on Saturday and Sunday this week, when many Britons use the channel to travel to ski holidays in the French Alps.

The firm said it could not yet give details of when it would get fully back to normal but hoped this would be "as soon as possible".

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