Hundreds of passengers were stranded in a Paris to London Eurostar overnight after an incident involving “two drunken Britons”, according to French authorities.
The Paris to London train, which departed at 8.15pm on Monday, was held up an hour into its journey after the unnamed disruptive travellers were removed by French authorities in Calais, said Eurostar.
They were “completely drunk,” local media quoted police as saying.
The delay was then said to have been made far worse by the fact that some passengers decided to leave the train for a quick breather, forcing the border force to conduct checks of all 770 passengers after the incident. According to some witnesses on the train, members of Eurostar staff had opened the doors.
“The train was no longer watertight. Other people could have got on board,” said a spokesman for the French rail operator SNCF.
The process took around four hours. One passenger said people passed the time playing table football.
The train finally resumed its journey, arriving in London shortly after 4am where weary travellers found themselves queueing again – this time for taxis.
The two passengers behind the disturbances meanwhile were sleeping it off in a hotel in Calais, the northern French daily La Voix du Nord quoted a local prosecutor as saying.
A spokeswoman for Eurostar said: “There were two passengers that became quite disorderly on board the train.
“We stopped the train in Calais so that the authorities could then manage those two passengers and take them off the train.
“But then Border Force requested that, because the train had stopped, all the passengers disembark and go through passport control again – which is why it was delayed.”
A spokesman for the Prefecture du Pas-de-Calais confirmed the disruptive passengers were British.
He said: “The two individuals were very drunk but they have not been put in custody.”
On its Twitter account it expressed its “sincere regrets and apologies” to its customers, together with a link to a compensation form.
The offer failed to appease some furious passengers, who vented their frustration on social media.
“9h travel time from Paris to London; arrival at 4.10am; because of a drunk and poor management,” Twitter user WBertagna wrote, along with a picture of passengers queueing in Calais to be allowed back onboard.
“#eurostar Train manager who opened the doors before police arrival should be fired #calais #stuckfor6hours #nightmare #worstcustomermgmtever,” wrote Celine Bayle.
Asier Gonzalez wrote: “Want to know what the worst thing was @Eurostar? The lies and lack of information! You never told us what the actual problem was!”
Jessica, another exhausted passenger, took to Twitter, to lament the lack of communication and food and drink offered.
But one passenger called Max Arthur said: “The lady with the lovely voice who’s been dealing with this all deserves a medal. Must’ve been v difficult for her but all home now #Calais”
In the end, passengers were offered free taxis in London to return home.