Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chunnel incident articles miss the point

I've been reading quite a few articles on the Chunnel train incident, and have found no coverage of the fact that there is no excuse for leaving the passengers in the tunnel for any length of time. There should be rescue vehicles ready to go at a moment's notice at both ends of the tunnel. This is where the initial enquiry should be focused, but instead it's all being focused on the "mysterious" cause for the trains failing when they went from the "frigid" French weather (which never phased the TGV) to the room-temperature tunnel.

I've also found conflicting reports on the conditions which the passengers experienced, but most indicate that the train crew was useless, that the trains were essentially sealed for several hours leading to overheating and breathing difficulties, including fainting and asthma attacks, and that off-duty police and paramedics organized the evacuation. In any case, it strikes me as an experiment designed by the Tavistock Institute.

Musician and actor Mr Head, who has starred in BBC One drama series Casualty, said he had been travelling from Paris for 17 hours and was stuck in the tunnel overnight for seven.

He said: "Luckily people suffered it well, but it beggars belief in terms of the lack of organisation, incompetence and lack of information on the part of Eurostar.

"The weirdest thing is if that if you had two trains stuck in the tunnel, why would you go in with a third train?
The mother-of-two from Maidstone in Kent was on the same train as Ms Tait. She had spent four days at Disneyland Paris with her husband James, son Jack, eight, and two-year-old daughter Etienne.

She said: "Adults and children alike were frightened and anxious. People were having panic and asthma attacks.

"A woman fainted in my arms and had to be taken off the train and children were vomiting and wetting themselves.

"Throughout this entire ordeal there was almost no information, no customer care and no help or advice.

"Passengers were left to fend for themselves and herded like cattle in Le Shuttle, with only French members of the rescue team speaking very little English and showing a complete lack of empathy to the conditions that we as a whole had endured."

She said the compensation offered of £150 and free ticket was not "apt" to the situation at hand.

"There was no calming authority... and that's what was needed, somebody who takes control. We all felt out of control," she said.

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