Channel Tunnel fire closes major route to Disney

Friday, 12th September 2008 at 00:25

ImageThursday afternoon, a major fire broke out on a freight shuttle service inside the Channel Tunnel between England and France, closing the entire route to all trains and leaving thousands of passengers stranded.,

It was at 14:55 BST today that the alarm was raised as a Eurotunnel shuttle service travelling between Coquelles near Calais, France and Folkestone in Kent, England was forced to make an emergency stop inside the 50.5 kilometre tunnel due to a fire on-board, 11 kilometres from the French opening.

It is believed the fire, which took hold on a lorry carrying the chemical “phenol”, began when a brake on the truck overheated, causing a tire to explode. In total, is it reported that 32 were on board the train and all were led to safety through one of the many access points into the middle “Service” tunnel. Of those involved, 14 are being treated in hospital for injuries including smoke inhalation.

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The fire has closed the tunnel completely in both directions, cancelling countless Eurostar passenger services and Eurotunnel motor vehicle shuttles. Though the fire is now contained, the latest reports state that it is still burning, having spread to other lorries on the shuttle. The tunnel’s freight services use large drive-on wagons, open on all sides but covered by a large metal roof cage to prevent trucks from tipping. Drivers ride in a separate passenger carriage at the front of the train.

The Channel Tunnel is actually three separate tunnels, two Running Tunnels with high speed rail lines, and a third, smaller Service Tunnel between them which has two in-built guide rails for the tunnel’s custom built firefighting, medical and security vehicles to reach the scene of any incident quickly. In today’s incident, it is reported that 70 firefighters from both sides of the Channel helped to tackle the blaze.

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So, with vehicle shuttle services closed and Eurostar services between London, Paris, Brussels – and Disneyland Resort Paris – cancelled, one of North West Europe’s most vital transportation links has been brought to a standstill. News reports state thousands are stranded at stations on both sides of the channel. Whilst Eurostar passengers will have to wait it out or travel to airports to complete their journeys, Eurotunnel travellers are being given vouchers and directions for the Dover-Calais ferry.

Motorists are warned, however, that tailbacks of lorries and other vehicles outside each terminal are causing severe disruption to traffic, especially on the M20 in the UK.

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Tonight’s 18.27 Eurostar service from Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy (the station at the gates of Disneyland) to Ashford International, Ebbsfleet International and London St Pancras International was cancelled, and the same service will also not be running tomorrow evening.

In addition, tomorrow morning’s direct train to the resort from London will be cancelled along with all trains between London and Lille, now a popular destination for Disney travellers to change to TGV services, allowing for more convenient departure times than the once-daily direct services.

It is currently unknown when the Channel Tunnel will be ready to open for regular service. If you’re due to use Eurostar or Eurotunnel to visit Disneyland Resort Paris from the UK, we advise you keep up with the latest news via Sky News, BBC News and the official Eurostar website.

— News details sourced via Sky News and BBC News. Neither Eurostar or Disneyland Resort Paris have yet mentioned or made a statement about the effect of the train cancellations on passengers using Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy station.

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