Last updated: 04:22 PM ET, Sat July 04 2015

Flood of Migrants, Mechanical Failure Cause Channel Tunnel Delays

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | July 04, 2015

Flood of Migrants, Mechanical Failure Cause Channel Tunnel Delays

Going between the U.K. and France via the Channel Tunnel in the past few days has been a headache for travelers due to both human and mechanical issues, according to The Guardian.

On Friday night, about 150 migrants — from such war-torn nations as Syria and Afghanistan — rushed the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais, France in an attempt to board freight trains headed for the U.K.

A spokesman for Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel told The Guardian that services were delayed and canceled after the migrants got into restricted areas in and around the tunnel.

The Guardian also reported that a failure of a moveable section of track (a “points failure”) caused rail delays of up to two hours. Le Shuttle services both from Folkestone in the UK and from Calais were held up by this failure.

Intruding migrants at this busy border crossing have been a major issue as of late. About 3,000 have set up camp nearby, and one of their main targets are slow-moving, lined up vehicles waiting to cross by tunnel or ferry, especially tractor-trailers.

Dan Cook, operations director of Kent-based Europa Worldwide Group describes them to the Guardian as “marauding mobs” who were “effectively halting” British trade to Europe. “We have had vehicles on the motorway in broad daylight being surrounded by marauding mobs racing around, opening doors, cutting trailers, climbing into the back,” he said.

“And then there’s the sheer intimidation to drivers. It’s a very, very intimidating situation: you’re a sitting target, with people running around trying to climb on.

“The fundamental problem is that there is no sign of any active policing to stop this happening in Calais. There is no security from the army, police or whoever to protect what is the gateway to trade,” he concluded.

The safety issue also extends to tourists. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised British travelers to keep vehicle doors locked in traffic and when unattended in Calais.

In light of the recent chaos, home secretary Theresa May and Bernard Cazeneuve her French counterpart, have agreed to pump more money into the joint intervention fund to improve security around the port and the Channel Tunnel, according to The Guardian.

But things seem to be getting back to normal for the moment, a recent tweet from Eurotunnel LeShuttle said, “End of delay to Passenger service. Now operating to schedule in both directions.”

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