Travel bottlenecks that held up a pre-Easter exodus of thousands of British tourists at Dover ferry port over the weekend extended to rail services Monday after a freight train broke down in the Channel Tunnel.
Several Eurostar International Ltd. passenger expresses linking London with Paris and other continental cities suffered delays of up to an hour after the incident, a spokeswoman said, while the Eurotunnel truck-shuttle service from Folkestone to Calais was also disrupted, according to updates on Twitter.
In the air, EasyJet Plc scrapped 60 flights, or about 4% of the total, after a surge in coronavirus infection rates left the U.K. discount carrier with a staffing crisis. British Airways also canceled some services after already reining in ramp-up plans amid sickness concerns.
The upheaval comes as school holidays in the run-up to Easter signal the start of one of Europe’s busiest periods for travel. The getaway led to chaos in Dover on Saturday, with drivers suffering nine-hour delays as a ferry fleet halved in size as a result of fallout from the P&O labor dispute and other factors was unable to cope with the sheer volume of car and truck traffic.
In addition to four P&O vessels being unavailable from Dover’s usual 12-strong roll-on, roll-off fleet, another operated by DFDS A/S was taken out of service after suffering damage in the port of Dunkirk, northern France, during bad weather, while a second DFDS ship is undergoing a refit.
Eurostar spokesman Catherine Leonard said the rail disruption was expected to ease late Monday morning, while Port of Dover official Tim Reardon said he anticipates that resilience will be much improved with the imminent return of the DFDS vessels.
DFDS said the Dunkerque Seaways will return from scheduled drydock on Monday, while the damaged Dover Seaways is expected to be back in service on Tuesday.
The suspension of P&O Ferries sailings following the firing of almost 800 staff without consultation has put further pressure on the U.K.’s already-stretched supply chains. Owned by Dubai-based DP World, P&O sparked uproar with the move last month and has been at loggerheads with the government ever since, with its fleet undergoing close scrutiny over safety concerns.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.