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 Eurostar fire scare strands thousands at St Pancras station

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PostSubject: Eurostar fire scare strands thousands at St Pancras station   Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:54 pm

[size=85:3lcs0zg8]London evening standard 09 July 2010

Eurostar fire scare strands thousands at St Pancras station

Thousands of Eurostar passengers were stranded overnight when a fire alert brought the service to a standstill.

The high-speed line into St Pancras International was closed for nearly four hours yesterday after smoke was seen in a tunnel under the Thames.

Passengers were left on stationary trains near Ebbsfleet in Kent for more than three hours until firefighters and Network Rail engineers gave the all-clear at about 10pm.

But the long delay also meant services heading to France and Belgium had to be cancelled. Although Eurostar offered to pay for hotels, hundreds opted to sleep in the station to be sure of getting seats today. The ticket office opened at 5am and seats were being allocated on a first come, first served basis.

At St Pancras, travellers spoke of their frustration. Tim and Stacey Eyerman, of Wisconsin, USA, told how they slept on the floor with daughters Allison, 10, Amelia, eight, and Sarah, six. They were on a day trip during a two-week holiday in Paris. Mrs Eyerman, 36, said: “This is our first time in London. This is certainly not how we were expecting to spend our time It's pretty miserable.”

Netty Falise, 62, from Sint-Truiden in Belgium, said: “We got on the 18.35 to Brussels but it didn't start and someone said something about smoke in a tunnel. They said we would go soon but sat on the train for two-and-a-half hours until they told us to get off because the train cannot leave, and we have to rebook our tickets in the morning.

“It was late to find a hotel and we had to be here at 5am so it was easier to sleep on the floor.” Southeastern's high-speed Javelin trains from Kent were also halted. A Eurostar spokesman said: “Quite rightly Network Rail decided to suspend services while the fire brigade investigated. We appreciate it has been hugely frustrating. We hope people will understand the reason.” Services were on time today but travellers should check in an half an hour earlier.

Two thousand people were evacuated from Liverpool Street station last night after fire broke out in Burger King. All Tubes and train services were halted but have now resumed.

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