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Chunnel Closed - Can Airlines Pick Up The Slack?  
User currently offlineSSTsomeday From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 1276 posts, RR: 1
Posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 7480 times:

I'm reading that tickets on Eurostar are being canceled until after Christmas or until they can get to the bottom of the unprecedented number of breakdowns in the last day or two. All Chunnel service is suspended.

Are the airlines in any position to pick up this slack? I would assume the planes are full this week. Could they bring mothballed A/C into service on short notice?

I would assume that the chunnel now carries the majority of O + D traffic between London and Paris, possibly Amsterdam and Brussels, plus connecting passengers into Europe. This could be the worst week in the year for this to happen.

Does anyone know of any large scale plans to move all these thousands of people, or are they just out of luck?


I come in peace
26 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAesma From France, joined Nov 2009, 6616 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 7343 times:

I heard some took a bus and a ferry. The weather is not good so I don't think airlines can take any slack, in fact flights are being canceled. In Paris and around one regional express line is on strike, and another had an accident last night (no fatalities but the line is closed for several days) so if you're a tourist, you most likely can't even go to the airport or eurostar station anyway. It's a big mess.


New Technology is the name we give to stuff that doesn't work yet. Douglas Adams
User currently offlineWjcandee From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5156 posts, RR: 22
Reply 2, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 7323 times:

I remember taking Hoverspeed from Dover to Calais in 1983. It was amazingly cool, and I'm sorry to see that they finally closed up shop several years ago as a result of competition from the Chunnel. You took a train to Dover from London, and the same from Calais to Paris. Very nice trip. Youtube has some nice video of these "flights", which were not as smooth as advertised but definitely unlike any other sea travel.

User currently offlineTGV From France, joined Dec 2004, 874 posts, RR: 20
Reply 3, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 7320 times:



Quoting Aesma (Reply 1):
heard some took a bus and a ferry. The weather is not good so I don't think airlines can take any slack, in fact flights are being canceled. In Paris and around one regional express line is on strike, and another had an accident last night (no fatalities but the line is closed for several days) so if you're a tourist, you most likely can't even go to the airport or eurostar station anyway. It's a big mess.



Quoting Aesma (Reply 1):
heard some took a bus and a ferry. The weather is not good so I don't think airlines can take any slack, in fact flights are being canceled. In Paris and around one regional express line is on strike, and another had an accident last night (no fatalities but the line is closed for several days) so if you're a tourist, you most likely can't even go to the airport or eurostar station anyway. It's a big mess.

I don't think the problem will be to go to the airport or Gare du Nord station.

The RER line on strike is line A, going from West to East, but inside Paris you have many possibilities to avoid it.
The line with the derailment is line C (South-West to South-East) and in most cases you can avoid the blocked section.

I would say the problem is mainly the quantity of people that have not been transported by Eurostar (I heard this morning there is a backlog of 24 000 passengers). In addition yesterday the situation in CDG was not good, what will it be today?

PS: the derailment on line C was due to a car having an accident on a bridge, a piece of concrete falling on a catenary post, which itself fell on the tracks and caused the derailment, as a train was arriving at the same time. I guess the insurance company of the car owner will have a huge amount to pay!



Avoid 777 with 3-4-3 config in Y ! They are real sardine cans. (AF/KL for example)
User currently offlineBy188b From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2003, 709 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 7308 times:

A quick check on fares shows you can fly to Paris for £154 single tomorrow from LHR, not really sure why people dont take advantage of it.


next flights : BD LHR-TXL J, FR SXF-STN Y, SN BRU-LHR Y, MA LHR-BUD Y, BA BUD-LHR J, BA LCY-SNN-JFK J, BA JFK-LHR J, BA
User currently offlineFrancoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3747 posts, RR: 11
Reply 5, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 7300 times:



Quoting SSTsomeday (Thread starter):
Are the airlines in any position to pick up this slack? I would assume the planes are full this week. Could they bring mothballed A/C into service on short notice?

Getting aircrafts out of long or even short term storage is a time consuming and costly process. The time it takes is usually measured in weeks, not days, unless the aircrafts are basically parked dormant at the airline's maintenance hangars.

scheduling extra flights is also a tricky exercise. You need to mobilize more crews, ground handling agents and logistics, which takes a few days at least.

If anybody os going to pick up some of the slack, it is going to be the ferries.
But they have weather restrictions too...



Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
User currently offlineLondonCity From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2008, 1489 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 7014 times:



Quoting SSTsomeday (Thread starter):
All Chunnel service is suspended

There's confusion here ! The Tunnel is open. Two operators use the Tunnel: E'star (for passengers) and Eurotunnel (cars, coaches and freight).

It's only E'star trains which are not operating. Eurotunnel "shuttles" are running but with severe delays owing to bad weather.

The airlines are only able to accommodate a fraction of the stranded E'star passengers. That's because, as has been noted above, there are simply not enough spare planes/staff etc.

But also note that major airports in mainland Europe are also badly affected so air travel also disrupted from the UK.


User currently offlineSW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6321 posts, RR: 9
Reply 7, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 6929 times:



Quoting Aesma (Reply 1):
I heard some took a bus and a ferry.

This is how Eurostar seems to be reacommodating people, and I would say it's really the best way. Unless you REALLY want to fly...

Quoting LondonCity (Reply 6):
Eurotunnel "shuttles" are running but with severe delays owing to bad weather.

I must ask...how does an underground tunnel suffer weather delays? I've been through that tunnel a dozen times and have never seen in snow inside  Wink  duck 

Quoting By188b (Reply 4):
A quick check on fares shows you can fly to Paris for £154 single tomorrow from LHR, not really sure why people dont take advantage of it.

A lot of people are toting families. GBP 154/USD 250 one-way still isn't cheap, especially if you have 3-5 people, and especially when it's unexpected...you're staring at an unexpected roundtrip fare for a family of 4 at GBP 1232/USD 2000.


User currently offlineLondonCity From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2008, 1489 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 6867 times:



Quoting SW733 (Reply 7):
I must ask...how does an underground tunnel suffer weather delays? I've been through that tunnel a dozen times and have never seen in snow inside

It's a complicated issue and if you check the news on sites like bbc.co.uk and telegraph.co.uk and thetimes.co.uk there is much more information than I could provide here.

In the case of Eurotunnel the delays maybe caused by icy conditions at the UK and French terminals which is hampering traffic.

In the case of Eurostar, the problem seems to be a build up of snow over the train's bodyshell as the train runs at speed in N France. The snow then melts after the train enters the tunnel where the temperature (inside the Tunnel) is much higher (say 25 degrees C) than out in the open in N France. The water (from the melting snow covering the engine ventilation vents) sems to have interferred with the electric systems.

Only trains running from France to the UK were affected. That's probably because there was heavier snowfall in N France compared with the UK side of the Tunnel.


User currently offlineSW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6321 posts, RR: 9
Reply 9, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 6842 times:



Quoting LondonCity (Reply 8):
It's a complicated issue and if you check the news on sites like bbc.co.uk and telegraph.co.uk and thetimes.co.uk there is much more information than I could provide here.

Gave it a read, thanks, that clears up a lot. All I kept hearing was "Eurostar is in deep ...." but wasn't sure all that was happening. Now I do, thanks.

Quoting LondonCity (Reply 8):
In the case of Eurotunnel the delays maybe caused by icy conditions at the UK and French terminals which is hampering traffic.

That's what I figured. Just took the chance to be a smart ass. I'm an expert at it.


User currently offlineSSTsomeday From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 1276 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 6704 times:

Well Thank God British Airways didn't go on strike as well, by the way...

Quoting Francoflier (Reply 5):
Getting aircrafts out of long or even short term storage is a time consuming and costly process.



Quoting LondonCity (Reply 6):
The airlines are only able to accommodate a fraction of the stranded E'star passengers.



Yes definitely. I was thinking more along the lines of airlines/charter or lease companies SOMEWHERE that may have idle A/C that could be short term leased, for a week or two, much like when you send a sports team somewhere. My use of the word "mothballs" was incorrect. 'Be interesting to see a few JAL high density 747s going back and forth btwn LHR and CDG for the remainder of the month. Eurostar tickets are not cheap; but perhaps it's just not in Eurostar's budget to accommodate in this fashion.

It seems I am fantasizing about a large scale solution - whereas in fact these holiday travelers are just out of luck. A terrible disappointment for many families, I'm afraid. I feel for them. I am traveling to Canada today and I seem to have lucked out to have planned my trip JUST as they finish cleaning up the big East Coast Blizzard.

Quoting Aesma (Reply 1):
The weather is not good so I don't think airlines can take any slack

My assumption (don't know if I am correct) that tending to the problem of the Chunnel technical issues was going to take a little longer than the weather blowing over, (since tickets have been canceled until after Christmas) so I figured the airline schedules will be back in full swing first.

[Edited 2009-12-21 06:44:55]


I come in peace
User currently offlineFrancoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3747 posts, RR: 11
Reply 11, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 6569 times:



Quoting SSTsomeday (Reply 10):
It seems I am fantasizing about a large scale solution

Anything is possible in aviation, but the problem here is that it takes time for things like that to get set up, especially when we're talking aircrafts. If the Chunnel problems were going to last several weeks or months, then it might be worth setting up something if some spare capacity was found somewhere. But a short term traffic rush like this one (just a few days over christmas, with no prior notice) has no easy solution for an airline, except if the airlines themselves have spare capacity of their own, like BA sending a spare 747 to Paris, as discussed in another thread.



Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
User currently offlineLondonCity From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2008, 1489 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 6438 times:



Quoting SSTsomeday (Reply 10):
It seems I am fantasizing about a large scale solution - whereas in fact these holiday travelers are just out of luck

The problem is compounded by the fact that the snow is also slowing traffic at airports, conventional train lines and the road network. Snowfall in N France is much worse than in the UK.


User currently offlineLondonCity From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2008, 1489 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 6407 times:



Quoting Francoflier (Reply 11):
Anything is possible in aviation

So true. FR has just announced a "rescue" flight for E'star passengers. It's a single round-trip flight on Dec 23 between STN and Paris Beauvais for Euros 99 / GBP99 one-way. The price includes taxes and fees and it seems FR is charging a flat price for all seats on these two flights.

As far as I know, it's the only time FR has ever flown between STN and Beauvais.


User currently offlineVandenheuvel From Netherlands, joined Dec 2008, 497 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 6362 times:

According to www.luchtvaartnieuws.nl both Thomas Cook and Jetairfly operate a flight between Brussels and London. These flights aim to transport customers of some travel organisations. Mostly citytrippers.

Here's a link to the article in dutch
http://www.luchtvaartnieuws.nl/news/?ID=33181

Tim,


User currently offlineLukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1092 posts, RR: 31
Reply 15, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 6267 times:



Quoting By188b (Reply 4):
A quick check on fares shows you can fly to Paris for £154 single tomorrow from LHR, not really sure why people dont take advantage of it.

I quite agree with this statement... all Eurostar passengers are receiving a refund and £150 compensation, making this type of splurge more than feasible. If their journey is urgent this is a fine solution and comes at no great financial burden. It would certainly be much more sensible than turning up at St Pancras each day to find there are no Chunnel services, and giving a distressed interview to the swarming news channel reporters.

Eurostar do estimate that it may be only two days more before they open... though still risky, I'd still put my money on the aviation industry to get me to my destination...



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineTrintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3238 posts, RR: 4
Reply 16, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 6043 times:



Quoting Lukeyboy95 (Reply 15):
quite agree with this statement... all Eurostar passengers are receiving a refund and £150 compensation, making this type of splurge more than feasible. If their journey is urgent this is a fine solution and comes at no great financial burden. It would certainly be much more sensible than turning up at St Pancras each day to find there are no Chunnel services, and giving a distressed interview to the swarming news channel reporters.

The travel chaos in the UK is truly on an enormous scale and throughout the country planes, trains, ferries and motorways are being badly affected. AF may be offering £154 flights from LHR to CDG but that is only one part of the equation as:

1. Passengers choosing this option would have to travel to LHR from wherever they are staying in London - many may have been staying in the vicinity of St Pancras and so going to LHR adds to the hassle, not to mention Tube delays and general overcrowding of services to the airport. It also adds another cost.

2. People travelling with lots of luggage (which could be typical of people travelling home for Christmas) may have to pay more due to baggage restrictions - Eurostar does not have baggage weight restrictions.

3. LHR itself has been suffering from delays over the past few days - the travellers could find themselves going from one cauldron of confusion to another!

4. Gare du Nord is quite central in Paris while CDG is some distance to the North so another transfer enters the equation - with its associated cost.

5. The demand for seats on the flights is likely to be very high and so groups of passengers travelling together such as families may not be able to be accommodated on the chosen flights.

Such an option seems vaguely attractive if one is on one's own and travelling with a briefcase or backpack but if you consider a family travelling together, it's a different kettle of fish.

TrinToCan.



Hop to it, fly for life!
User currently offlineLHR380 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 5055 times:



Quoting By188b (Reply 4):
A quick check on fares shows you can fly to Paris for £154 single tomorrow from LHR, not really sure why people dont take advantage of it.

How on earth did you find a fare that low out of LHR, especially after what's happened the past few days!!


User currently offlineEric From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 4894 times:

I just paid £290 for a ticket BRU-LHR for my bf so we can travel onwards to Norway on the 23rd. He was due to travel on the 22nd with EU* but due to the backlog he would not be let on until the 23rd making it too tight for our comfort given the current weather delays.

I do not understand why more people are not booking flights, all flights with bmi were open for tickets, I realise that for quite a few people £290 is alot of money but if you are so desperate to travel surely it is worth it rather than hanging around the terminal for 3 days. At least you would be able to claw back half the cost.

I just did not want to risk spending Christmas in London and also forefeiting the £500 I spent on tickets to Norway.


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19592 posts, RR: 58
Reply 19, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 4681 times:

So Japan can operate the Shinkansen in spite of the fact that parts of the network do get snow in winter. Why is this such a problem in Europe? The whole point of high-speed rail is its reliability.

User currently offlineLHR380 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 4643 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 21):
So Japan can operate the Shinkansen in spite of the fact that parts of the network do get snow in winter. Why is this such a problem in Europe? The whole point of high-speed rail is its reliability.

They are used to it, The UK, and certainly some parts of Euro land never have seen this type of weather before.


User currently offlineWarRI1 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 8873 posts, RR: 10
Reply 21, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 4358 times:



Quoting LHR380 (Reply 18):

How on earth did you find a fare that low out of LHR, especially after what's happened the past few days!!

I heard on tonights NBC news from London that fares were tripled by the airlines. How accurate???



It is better to die on your feet, than live on your knees.
User currently offlineDangould2000 From UK - Scotland, joined Dec 2005, 172 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 4143 times:

ryanair has launched some special STN-BVA flights (a route that's not been operated for a few years)

all fares (included fees) cost £99 one way

www.ryanair.com



Next Flights:- wherever the airline sends me
User currently offlineTGV From France, joined Dec 2004, 874 posts, RR: 20
Reply 23, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 3997 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 21):



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 21):
So Japan can operate the Shinkansen in spite of the fact that parts of the network do get snow in winter. Why is this such a problem in Europe? The whole point of high-speed rail is its reliability.



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 21):
So Japan can operate the Shinkansen in spite of the fact that parts of the network do get snow in winter. Why is this such a problem in Europe? The whole point of high-speed rail is its reliability.

The Eurostar problem is very specific: it is due to the important temperature difference between the Chunnel interior, and the outside air and to the duration of the trip inside the Chunnel.

The ice accumulated under the car bodies melts quickly when inside the Chunnel and transforms into water which enters electrical equipment, like the motors. Other high speed trains do not have this problem, since the ice will melt gradually when the temperature rises; and the water will be present in smaller quantities that can be dealt with without generating electrical problems.
This is why the problem is specific to Eurostar train sets.

Other high speed trains may operate at reduced speeds (220/230 versus 300/320) to limit the risk of having block of ice accumulated under the car bodies being projected at high speed, and damaging equipment on the trains or the track. This leads to delays; but remains manageable (I had 30 minute delays on my 2 TGV trips this week-end).

If I remember well some Shinkansen lines have a system of water sprinklers in areas prone to snow accumulation, the water melts the snow when it falls and solves the problem.
But this has a cost, and is not installed in Europe, where the occurrence of such a problem is far lower.

Another cause can be the type of snow. There is for example a system enabling to use the catenaries as a radiator to de-ice them. Some years ago in the South East of France we had a very specific type of heavy snow which was very dense and accumulated in great quantities on the catenaries, followed by a very cold period. The snow transformed into ice, creating a large ice cylinder around the contact wires and the heat from the catenaries was only able to melt the centre of the cylinder, but was not sufficient to solve the problem as it does normally.



Avoid 777 with 3-4-3 config in Y ! They are real sardine cans. (AF/KL for example)
User currently offlineSkydrol From Canada, joined Oct 2003, 969 posts, RR: 10
Reply 24, posted (4 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 3667 times:



Quoting LHR380 (Reply 22):
They are used to it, The UK, and certainly some parts of Euro land never have seen this type of weather before.

Global Cooling folks... it's the talk of the town.

Two words Al Gore doesn't like: Maunder Minimum



LD4



∙ ---{--« ∙ ----{--« ∙ --{-« ∙ ---{--« ∙ --{--« ∙ --{-« ∙ ----{--« ∙
25 LondonCity : " target=_blank>www.ryanair.com Already posted on thread 13 above. As far as I know, this is the first time that FR has flown into Beauvais from STN.
26 Aesma : You can't link global warming and a specific weather at a specific place and time. A couple of weeks ago Europe had record high temperatures... And ab
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