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E-gates IT failure sparks Eurostar travel chaos



A technical problem involving UK Border Forces e-gates at the Gare du Nord has caused major delays for passengers travelling between Paris and London on Eurostar.

Many trains have been delayed by 90 minutes or more as passengers struggle to pass through passport control, according to reports.

The rail firm has also cancelled the last two trains of the day as it attempts to fix the problem, and has urged passengers who do not need to travel to postpone their journeys.

Many trains were delayed by 90 minutes or more as passengers struggled to pass through passport control (Photo: Kevin Coomb/Reuters)

In a statement Eurostar told The Independent: “A technical problem is affecting the UK Border Forces e-gates at Gare du Nord, causing major delays and impacting all traffic on the London-Paris route in both directions.

“We are awaiting the intervention of a technician to resolve this problem as quickly as possible and reduce the impact on our passengers but unfortunately, we had to cancel the two last trains of the day.

“For those who need it, we provide hotel accommodation or taxis at our own charge. The persons concerned are individually looked after directly by our train managers and staff at the station.

People queue at the Gare du Nord as Eurostar trains were delayed by a British e-gate failure in Paris, France, May 30, 2024. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs
Eurostar cancelled the last two trains of the day as it attempted to fix the problem (Photo: Kevin Coombs/Reuters)

“Eurostar teams are taking all measures to make sure that those who need to travel will be able to arrive in London. We are sincerely sorry for the inconvenience caused.”

Karen Fletcher, who has been caught up in the delays, said: “Total chaos at Gare du Nord. Been here three hours so far. Still in huge queue to get anywhere near check in. Advise anyone who doesn’t need to travel back tonight to leave it. Barely any staff anywhere but those who are here are excellent in very trying circumstances.”

The e-gate issue comes after it was announced that hundreds of Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport will stage a three-day strike starting on Friday amid the end of the half-term holiday.

Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) members who work on passport control at terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5 at the airport are taking action in protest at new rosters being introduced.

The strike comes as thousands of football fans are expected to travel to Heathrow ahead of Real Madrid playing Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final at London’s Wembley Stadium.

PCS general secretary Fran Heathcote said: “We call on all trade unionists and the public to support this petition and tell Border Force management to scrap this unwelcome and unworkable roster that has already caused misery to our members.

“PCS has repeatedly called for more flexibility in the new roster but management has refused to listen.

“Until they do, and they put forward proposals to improve the roster, then the dispute will continue.”

It is not yet clear if the army will be brought in to cover for the strike as has been the case previously.

The union claims as a result of the new rosters, more than 250 staff face losing their jobs or being moved on to other work against their will.

It claims that workers who keep their jobs will have longer shifts, inflexible shift-swapping rules, plus no clarity on booking leave and working around caring responsibilities.

The strike follows a four-day walkout from 29 April to 3 May and a planned strike from 11 to14 April that was called off at the last minute.

When Border Force staff at Heathrow went on strike over the busy Christmas period in 2022, British Army personnel were drafted in to cover their roles. Passengers passing through the airport did not experience any significant delays.

A spokesperson for the Home Office, which is is responsible for Border Force, told i there are “robust plans” in place to “minimise disruption” for football fans and “keep the border safe and secure”.

They added: “We recommend that passengers check the latest advice from their operators before travelling.”

The spokesperson did not provide details of the airports plans but confirmed it would not be receiving support from the British Army.

A Home Office spokesperson told the BBC: “We are disappointed with the union’s decision to strike but remain open to discussing a resolution with PCS Union.”

The airport said it would like to reassure passengers that they will still be able to “travel as normal in this period”.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We would like to reassure passengers that they will still be able to travel as normal in this period. We also encourage them to use e-gates – they are always the quickest way to get through the border regardless of what is going on.”

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