Last night at 2202 a newsletter arrived in my inbox entitled ‘Europe: the ideal Christmas gift’, urging me to offer friends and family a trip on Eurostar.
At the same time Eurostar knew a difficult situation was developing on its services – BBC reported on it at 0400 this morning. When temperatures are very cold either side of the tunnel, Eurostar hits problems. The temperature difference means that trains break down when leaving or entering the tunnel because the air in the tunnel is much warmer than the air on the outside.
Eurostar has my e-mail address (they can e-mail me marketing crap), and they also have my UK mobile number. Did they make any effort to contact me to inform me my train would be more than 4 hours delayed, if I even manage to get to London today? No, of course they didn’t. They just put a small message on their website – responsibility on the passengers to check what’s going on.
This is all especially frustrating as I’m supposed to be at the wedding of some friends in London today… I’ll miss the service and probably also the lunch, and if I’m lucky might manage to join them for a drink at the reception, probably by that time angry and disheveled having spent half the morning in the Eurostar terminal.
Beyond all of that I’m also angry at myself. I’m a railway geek, have heard of the Eurostar problems with the cold in the past, and if I had checked online yesterday might have managed to travel overnight by bus instead… The personal frustration of not having checked is very much compounded by Eurostar’s communications failure.
UPDATE – 1110 CET
An ad-hoc support network for stranded passengers has been formed via the #eurostar hashtag on Twitter. @johnandreas is at St Pancras, @cjtrigg is trying to get to Lille, and I (@jonworth) am stuck in Brussels where there is still no guarantee of a 1200 departure to London. I’ll post any news from Gare du Midi there.
In the meantime I’ve also checked the official Eurostar Twitter Account, and Facebook Fan Page – no news whatsoever there about the problems. Part of the idea with engagement in social media is honesty and that seems to rather lacking at both of those locations.