IT outage at E-gates causes disruption to Eurostar services

UK Border Force's electronic gates at Paris' Gare du Nord station experienced technical issues, causing major delays for passengers travelling on the Eurostar between Paris and London.

Many trains were reportedly delayed by more than 90 minutes as passengers struggled to get through passport control.

The railway company also cancelled the day's final two trains as it tried to resolve the problem and urged passengers who did not need to travel to postpone their journeys.

People queue at Gare du Nord after a malfunctioning electronic gate in Britain caused delays to Eurostar trains in Paris, France, May 30, 2024. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs
Many trains were delayed by more than 90 minutes as passengers struggled to get through passport control (Photo: Kevin Coombe/Reuters)

Eurostar said in a statement: Independent“A technical issue is affecting the UK Border Force electronic gates at Gare du Nord, causing significant delays and affecting traffic in both directions on the London-Paris line.

“We are awaiting the intervention of our engineers to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and minimise the impact on passengers, but unfortunately we have had to cancel the final two trains of the day.

“Hotel accommodation or taxis will be arranged for those in need at their own expense. Those concerned will be dealt with individually and directly by train management and station staff.”

People queue at Gare du Nord after a malfunctioning electronic gate in Britain caused delays to Eurostar trains in Paris, France, May 30, 2024. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs
Eurostar cancelled its final two trains of the day as it tried to resolve the problem (Photo: Kevin Coombs/Reuters)

“The team at Eurostar are taking all measures to ensure that people who need to travel can get to London and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Karen Fletcher, who was caught up in the delays, said:: “It's chaos at Gare du Nord. We've been here for three hours and there's still a long queue to get anywhere near check-in. Anyone who doesn't need to return tonight is advised to leave. There are barely any staff anywhere but the staff that are here are doing an amazing job under difficult circumstances.”

The e-gate issues came after hundreds of border force officers at Heathrow Airport announced a three-day strike starting on Friday after the half-term holiday.

Members of the Public Commercial Services (PCS) union, who work in passport control at the airport's terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5, have taken to the streets in protest against the introduction of new rostering.

The strike came as thousands of football fans are expected to head to Heathrow Airport ahead of the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at London's Wembley Stadium.

PCS general secretary Fran Heathcote said: “We call on all trade unionists and members of the public to support this petition and tell Border Force managers to abolish this unwelcome and unworkable register which is already causing suffering to our members.”

“PCS has repeatedly asked for more flexibility in the new roster but management has not listened.”

“Until they do so and submit proposals to improve the roster, the controversy will continue.”

It is not yet clear whether troops will be deployed to back the strikes, as has been the case in the past.

The union claims that more than 250 staff members risk losing their jobs or being transferred against their will to other work as a result of the new roster.

The company claims that workers who keep their jobs are forced to work longer shifts, have inflexible rules for shift swapping and are not clear about how to balance holiday bookings and caring responsibilities.

The strike follows a four-day strike from April 29 to May 3, and a planned strike from April 11 to 14 that was called off at the last minute.

British Army personnel were called in to cover for strike action by Border Force officials at Heathrow Airport during the busy Christmas period in 2022. Passengers passing through the airport did not experience any major delays.

A spokesman for the Home Office, which is responsible for the Border Force, said: I “Robust plans” are in place to “minimise disruption” to football fans and “maintain border safety and security”.

It added: “Passengers are advised to check the latest advice from their operating companies before travelling.”

A spokesman declined to provide further details about the airport plans but confirmed it would not receive support from the British military.

A Home Office spokesman told the BBC: “We are disappointed by the unions' decision to strike but remain open to discussing a solution with the PCS union.”

The airport said it wanted to assure passengers that “travel will continue as normal during this period”.

A Heathrow spokesman said: “We want to assure passengers that they can travel as normal during this period and encourage them to use the electronic gates, which are the quickest way to get through the border no matter what happens.”

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