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Has anyone taken the Eurostar since the problems have escalated with immigrants trying to make their way into England? Is it safe to take the Eurostar to/from Paris from London?

Posted by
8889 posts

The problems at Calais make absolutely no difference to the Eurostar. Some trains were delayed when striking ferry workers blocked the tracks a few weeks ago. But, nobody is going to jump on or off a train doing over 100 mph!

Posted by
2246 posts

I have not read of any safety issues around Eurostar trains with migrants attempting to get into the UK. It has been my understanding that the immigrants have used trucks and trains, and while there have been some delays, that's about it as far as Eurostar goes. Security is far greater for Eurostar in general than it is for other trains though I suspect that will eventually change to tighter security across the board.

Posted by
21709 posts

We were on the Brussel run last May. Just another train ride. I didn't seen any illegals on board. Maybe some were hanging on the outside but I didn't look. It is actually a pretty boring ride. Not sure what the potential safety issue could be. You probably should ask a more specific question.

Posted by
5540 posts

You are getting confused, as the problems at Calais concern the Eurotunnel, not the Eurostar.

Posted by
914 posts

The BBC ran some radio reports on the Calais Jungle migrant camp last week. Worth a listen if you'd like some background on what's going on.

The tunnel in the news is for commercial traffic and as another poster mentioned that's the area where much of the movement and security enforcement is happening. Not the same as the Eurostar passenger train.

Posted by
27713 posts

To clear up some misunderstands that I see - a little clarification:-

There is only one tunnel between Folkestone (near Dover) and Coquelles (near Calais). It is composed of 3 side by side bores, one each way and the central service and evacuation tunnel, with both rail bores linked by frequent strong doors to the service tunnel.

Only trains run through the rail bores. There are 4 types of trains which run through the tunnel, Eurostar which carries passenger trains between London and both Paris and Brussels; Eurotunnel which carry trucks on truck carrier trains and cars, motorcycles, and buses on car trains between the two ends of the tunnel in Folkestone and Coquelles; maintenance trains and freight trains.

A little confusion may arise because the name of the tunnel operator and the vehicle transporter trains are called the same name. The Eurotunnel vehicle trains are also known as Le Shuttle.

Eurostar trains can run quite quickly, and have sealed doors, much like on aircraft, so there is little opportunity for anybody to hang on or get on out of course.

Car trains on Eurotunnel services are also sealed once all the cars and buses are loaded, and are double deckers with the top of the train very close to high voltage wire which feeds the train. Eurotunnel car trains also are not welcoming to migrants.

Eurotunnel truck trains have an openwork frame allowing ventilation around the truck trailers and these carriages have been the target of migrants, as well as inside, on top of and below the trailers.

It is the trucks and the truck trains which are vulnerable, and the tunnel itself has been under attack by swarms of migrants storming it.

This started when striking French ferry employees stopped all trains with the burning tyres and the migrants took advantage to board trucks stuck in the stopped traffic.

Posted by
38 posts

Thank you Nigel,
I was not aware of the different types of trains for different usages. I was under the impression that each train had different types of cars. I feel so much better knowing that a passenger train is just that - a passenger-only train - and that is impervious to the concerns of late. Many thanks. I will now be able to book our passage without any undue concern.

Posted by
9692 posts

Thanks also from me Nigel for the wonderful explanation. I had not understood about the different kinds of traffic thru the tunnel nor had I considered that some might be easier for people to hop on to.

Posted by
118 posts

Thank you, Nigel, for your informative and respectful reply!

Posted by
7593 posts

Just one addendum to Nigel's very informative and helpful post. Please note that the authorities (whether Eurotunnel officials or ministry of transportation officials, i'm not sure) did shut down Eurostar traffic back in June at at least one point because the striking French ferry workers were creating such dangerous conditions at the tunnel entrance on the French side that they did not consider they could safely operate the trains.

Not to scare anyone, but I think we can all guess that French strikes always have a possibility of recurring, so it is possible that similar closures could play out again in the future. (The ferry workers were striking in late July again, this time in the port area.) It's not that the Eurostar isn't safe for travelers, but its passage can be affected by strikers if they want to make a point. I had a friend who had friends who were supposed to be coming via Eurostar that June day, and their train was cancelled and they didn't make it over to France until a couple of days later. Not that that is the norm, but it can happen.

As Nigel mentioned, the chaos created by the strikers then created an opening for the migrants attempting to cross, which has now evolved into its own chaos over the past couple of months.

I think this "live blog" page from the Guardian gives a good recap of what was happening back in June:

More from the July 31/Aug 1 disturbances:

The thing to remember is that these are people who are absolutely desperate to find somewhere that will offer them a better life. The New York Times has done some terrific reporting on the whys and whats of this situation:

This is the most devastating part of the piece to me, this quote from a 26-year-old Ethiopian university graduate who is one trying to make the crossing:

“The U.K. is not paradise, it’s not heaven, I know that,” he said. “I
know it’s not safe to jump on a moving train. But we have no choice.
If you had a choice, why would you do this?”

If you had a choice, why would you do this?
Ok well that ended up being a longer post than I intended, but just that we remember: There but for the grace of God go I.

Posted by
2246 posts

A pretty incredible story in the Times today, which says, in part:

The migrant, Abdul Rahman Haroun, 40, risked his life this week by climbing four fences, evading around 400 security cameras and international search teams, and walking about 30 miles underground in the darkness of the Channel Tunnel in an effort to reach England from near Calais, France. He dodged trains traveling to London from Paris as they hurtled by at up to 100 miles per hour.

Posted by
7593 posts

Keith -- I admit to being stunned by this myself. What is it that makes them so desperate to get to the UK rather than staying in France? One would presume that the social safety net would be somewhat similar across Europe - but this level of desperation at this point in their journey shows that there's something fundamental that I don't understand.

Posted by
1063 posts

The reason that they "risk" so much to get to the UK can be summed by a conversation with an African "looky looky" man in Spain, he told me that he would try to get to England soon, I asked why he wanted to leave Spain and he said that like France they would not give them anything but he had heard that if he got to England he would be given money, a house, a car and free medical care without having to work. This is what attracts them, nothing to do with speaking English, it seems that now because of the extra security at the tunnel, some of them are now going to Germany.

Posted by
7593 posts

The NYT has this in a Q&A from a few days ago:

What happens to migrants who get through?

Some migrants who make it to Britain try to remain undetected and find
work in the informal economy. It can be easier if they have friends or
family already in Britain, which, unlike France, has no national
identity cards.

Those who get picked up by the border police face a criminal
investigation for “clandestine entry” and could be deported. If they
fear persecution in their own country, migrants can apply for asylum.
While their application is processed, they are either held in a
detention center or granted temporary release and can legally remain
in Britain.

Why are they trying to go to Britain?

Some migrants in Calais want to stay in France. They have applied for
asylum and have started learning French at a new school set up by a
Nigerian migrant in the camp. But many want to make it to Britain —
some because they speak some English and already have some family
there, others because they believe job prospects are better on the
other side of the Channel. A few mentioned the strong British pound,
relative to the euro.

Posted by
4676 posts

The ID card stuff is a red herring in that people working in an 'informal' economy never need them anywhere.

Posted by
754 posts

Hi everyone,

I've removed a number of posts here.

We're fine with generally discussing how the issues in Calais affect travel. What I've deleted and always will delete is the off-topic politicizing of any discussion. There is no need to cut anyone down for citing a media source that doesn't fit with your own personal political orientation. If you have an opinion that differs from someone else, please share it using the merits of your rationale, but do so without ascribing blanket assessments about whether something is conservative or liberal. This is not a political forum.

On the subject of off-topic tangents, forums are a platform for writing and it's no good for us to pick at each other for using or not using particular words (outside of the ones associated with verbal attacks on each other as governed by our Community Guidelines).

Thanks for keeping this thread on topic from here forward. I'll also chime in and say thanks to Nigel for that excellent explanation.