Eurostar services to and from London were canceled on Saturday after a tunnel under the River Thames was flooded, disrupting festive travel plans.
Hundreds of travelers trying to cross the English Channel were stranded at London's St Pancras International station and Paris's Gare du Nord station. Eurostar, which runs services from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, said it had canceled at least 29 trains on Saturday and was not expected to run any services for the rest of the day due to the flooding.
Engineers working in the tunnel said water levels were falling. They said the volume of water in the tunnel was “unprecedented.”
The UK was hit by strong, gusty winds and heavy rain brought by Storm Gerrit throughout the festive period. More stormy weather and travel disruption is expected during the last weekend of the year.
Chris Dillashaw, of San Antonio, Texas, was among many whose New Year's Eve plans were ruined by travel chaos.
“Our whole family is here… We were celebrating Christmas in Paris and then headed to London to carry out our New Year’s Eve plans,” he told The Associated Press while waiting at Gare du Nord station. “It is very disappointing to learn what happened via email.”
Christina David, 25, and Georgina Benjamin, 26, from Sydney, said they had nowhere to stay after learning their train from London to Paris – their final stop on a weeks-long European tour – had been cancelled.
“We paid for an expensive hotel with a view of the Eiffel Tower,” Benjamin said. “Now we have to book a hotel to spend the night here. We don't know where to go, and we have no place to stay.”
Eurostar said it was “deeply sorry for the unexpected problems that have affected our customers and services”.
“We recognize that this is a vital time to return home at the end of the holiday season and before the New Year,” the company said.
Eurostar services were also disrupted just before Christmas due to a strike by staff in the Eurotunnel.
The UK Met Office said more strong winds and rain were expected to hit London and southern England on Saturday. Wind speeds are expected to reach 50 mph (80 km/h), with the strongest winds likely near coastal areas.
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