Eurostar Cancels Trains Due to Flooding, Stranding Hundreds of Travelers in Paris and London

James Manning/PA via AP
Passengers wait on the concourse at the entrance to the Eurostar in St Pancras International station, central London, Saturday Dec. 30, 2023, after high-speed services between London and Ebbsfleet were cancelled because of flooding in a tunnel under the Thames.

LONDON (AP) — The holiday travel plans of hundreds of people were upended Saturday after Eurostar canceled train services to and from London because a tunnel under the River Thames became flooded.

Large crowds of travelers trying to get across the English Channel were stranded at London’s St. Pancras International station and the Gare du Nord station in Paris. Eurostar, which runs services from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, said it canceled all 41 trains scheduled for Saturday because of the flooding.

Engineers working on the tunnel said water levels were reducing. The volume of water in the tunnel was “unprecedented,” they said.

The U.K. has been battered by strong, gusty winds and heavy rain brought by Storm Gerrit throughout the holiday period. More stormy weather and travel disruption is expected during the last weekend of the year.

Many travelers stuck at the train stations sat on floors and suitcases, scrambling to find last-minute accommodation or alternative plans. Chris Dillashaw, from San Antonio, Texas, was among many whose plans for New Year’s Eve were ruined by the travel chaos.

“Our entire family is here … We were celebrating Christmas in Paris and then headed to London for our New Year’s Eve plans,” he told The Associated Press while waiting at Gare du Nord. “It’s pretty disappointing to find out via an email what happened.”

Christina David, 25, and Georgina Benyamin, 26, from Sydney, said they have nowhere to stay after finding out that their train from London to Paris — their final stop in a weeks-long European tour — was canceled.

“We paid for an expensive hotel with an Eiffel Tower view,” Benyamin said. “Now we have to book a hotel to stay for the night here. We don’t know where to go; we have nowhere to stay.”

Eurostar said it was “extremely sorry for the unforeseen issues affecting our customers and services.”

“We understand this is a vital time to get home at the end of the festive season and ahead of New Year,” the company said.

Eurostar services were also disrupted just before Christmas due to a strike by staff at Eurotunnel.

The U.K.’s weather forecaster, the Met Office, said more high winds and rain are expected to hit London and southern England on Saturday. Gusts of up to 50 miles per hour (80 kph) are expected, with the strongest winds likely near coastal areas.