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Shock strike hits Eurotunnel and Eurostar services

Eurostar has urged customers not to travel on Thursday after it was forced to cancel trains when strike action hit the cross-Channel route.

The firm said it had to halt services at midday until 15:30 due to a “last-minute strike” at Eurotunnel.

The disruption emerged as many people start travelling for the Christmas holidays over the next few days.

Eurotunnel said it did not know how long the action, which is also hitting LeShuttle services, will last.

Meanwhile, there are no trains from London Euston station at the moment because of damaged overhead power cables between Milton Keynes and Watford Junction.

As a result, Euston station is currently closed to incoming passengers. Network Rail engineers are currently assessing the damage to the cables using drones.

Several thousand people were due to use the Le Shuttle service, which carries cars through the tunnel on trains.

“We apologise for the delay to your journey,” Eurotunnel said. “Further updates will be provided shortly.”

Eurostar, which runs the high-speed trains, said: “Customers affected will receive direct communication about their journey and we recommend that travellers postpone their travel today if possible.

“We are closely monitoring the situation as it evolves, and any further updates will be communicated as soon as possible.”

The parent company of Eurotunnel, Getlink, which operates the Channel Tunnel, said: “Today’s call for strike action by representatives of Eurotunnel’s French site staff unions has resulted in the complete interruption of service and the closure of our terminals in France and the UK.”

The company said strike action was being taken by union members on the French side.

It said workers had been given a €1,000 (£867) bonus for the end of the year, but claimed they are demanding three times that.

Passengers turning up to the terminals in Folkestone and Calais are being turned away and advised to use the ferry instead, or travel on a different day.
‘No communications’

Chris Tirifahy-McCabe and his wife were planning to travel to Brussels to visit family. He’s currently stuck at St Pancras and is trying to make alternative travel arrangements, along with hundreds of others.

“All Eurostar services have been suspended until further notice”, he told the BBC. “There are around 500 people stuck past security waiting.”

“It’s an unexpected strike and that’s all they’re saying. There’s been no real communications”

“No one knows whether to leave or stay”, he added.

According to Eurostar’s website, the final services of the day from London St Pancras to Paris – leaving at 19:01 and 20:01 – are still scheduled to run.

Transport networks are gearing up for one of the busiest periods of the year, with many travelling to visit family and friends.

Travel in some parts of the UK has already been disrupted by strong winds from Storm Pia.

British Airways says it has had to adjust its flight schedule on Thursday as a result of air traffic control restrictions put in place in response to the storm.

Rail operator TransPennine Express has issued “do not travel” advice to customers for its services to and from Edinburgh before 15:00.