Passengers evacuated from Eurotunnel after being stranded for hours
London (CNN) – Passengers traveling from France to England were evacuated from the Channel Tunnel train under the English Channel on Tuesday and left stranded for hours.
“A train broke down in the tunnel and we are in the process of transferring customers to a separate commuter train through the service tunnel, and back to our Folkestone station,” chirp Channel Tunnel late Tuesday UK time. “We deeply apologize for the inconvenience.”
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle operates trains carrying passenger and freight vehicles through a tunnel between England and France.
PA Media reported that the collapse affected the 3:50 pm (local time) service that was traveling from Calais, France, to Folkestone, England, carrying hundreds of people as well as many dogs.
Passenger Michael Harrison recounted the puzzling experience of PA.
“We went up to the crossing at 3:50 pm, and after about 10 minutes the lights went out and the train stopped. They told us they should investigate a problem with the wheels,” he said.
“It took about an hour and a half to investigate and they obviously didn’t find anything. They did a reboot and we moved forward another five minutes,” Harrison added. “It happened again and then we waited another two hours to decide they didn’t see any problem, but they had to evacuate the train to another train.”
Then, the passengers were evacuated through the emergency link tunnel to the service tunnel, and walked for about 10 minutes to another train, Harrison told the PA.
She added that other problems with the alternative train meant that passengers finally arrived in the UK six hours after boarding the plane.
The Eurotunnel Le Shuttle usually takes 35 minutes to travel between Folkestone and Calais.
A second passenger told PA that “many people were afraid to go down the service tunnel, it’s a bit weird place. We’ve been stuck there for at least five hours.”
Another passenger, Kate Scott, said temperatures in the tunnel were a problem.
“It was hot, there was no air conditioning, they gave us water but we didn’t really know what was going on,” he said.
“The service tunnel was terrifying,” Sarah Fellowes, 37, told PA.
“It was like a disaster movie,” he said. “You went into the abyss without knowing what was going on. We all had to stay under the sea in this big queue.”
“There was a woman crying in the tunnel, and another woman having a panic attack who was traveling alone,” colleagues added.
“They had already expected the elderly to walk a mile through an undersea tunnel.”
“At one point I panicked and told the border guards that the tunnel had been cleared again in the last 17 years, not recently,” he said.
The problem also had repercussions on downstream services.
Eurotunnel said in tweet late on Tuesday. “Please come tomorrow after six in the morning.”
On Wednesday morning, the company said the trains were running again. “After yesterday’s incident, we’re back to normal services,” chirp.
CNN has contacted Eurotunnel for further comments on the incident.
The Channel Tunnel revolutionized travel between the UK and Europe when it opened in May 1994, making the journey much faster than the equivalent ferry route.
It took more than 180 years to make before British and French workers laid the foundation stone and began digging toward each other in 1988.
The 50.5-kilometre tunnel took six years to build 13,000 workers, 39 of whom are underwater, making it the longest of its kind in the world.