Eurostar warns passengers not to travel to France until April

Hugh Morris
Eurostar has cancelled a number of services this week - ImageGap

Eurostar has warned passengers not to travel to Paris until next month as the chaos caused by work-to-rule industrial action by French custom officials looks to stretch into April.

The cross-Channel rail operator has this week advised travellers that five-hour queues at the Gare du Nord station were disrupting inbound services, but said normal service would resume next week. But now travellers have been told the delays are expected “until the end of March”.

“We strongly recommend that you do not travel during this period unless necessary,” Eurostar said. The operator, which also said it is not able to offer its priority check-in service, is offering refunds or free ticket changes to affected passengers. Services to Brussels and Amsterdam, however, have not been affected.

More than a dozen Paris to London trains have been cancelled over the last week, with more likely should the strikes continue.

The disruption is the result of industrial action by custom officials in France over pay and staffing, who have been said to be carrying out the same passport checks as would be required in the event of a no-deal Brexit, raising concerns about disruption to services should the UK leave the EU without a deal.

Passengers caught up in the disruption last week posted photos of the queues in Paris. Peter Frankopan, a professor of global history at Oxford University, tweeted an image of a long, wide queue, with the words: “Four hours of my life that I’ll never get back.”

A spokesperson for Eurostar told Telegraph Travel that the operator is working closely with station partners, governments and control authorities on both sides of the Channel “to ensure that robust plans are in place to protect services and to manage customer flows effectively”.

“We have plans in place for a range of potential scenarios to ensure that we can maintain our service even in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit,” the spokesperson added.

According to Department for Transport analysis, seen by the Financial Times last month, queues of 15,000 people could form along Euston Road outside St Pancras, in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Eurostar said the suggestion was “extremely misleading and speculative”.