Airline Flybe has said it was increasing capacity to help stranded Eurostar passengers, laying on larger aircraft from Birmingham to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport for the next four days.
Thousands of people endured more travel misery yesterday as anger grew at the UK transport network’s inability to cope with wintry conditions.
For the third day running there were no Channel Tunnel high-speed Eurostar trains operating, although the company’s beleaguered boss Richard Brown said he hoped to run some services today.
The knock-on effect meant Channel Tunnel shuttle train company Eurotunnel had to suspend access to its Folkestone terminal in Kent after being inundated with passengers.
There were delays and cancellations to air and rail travel, with Gatwick Airport’s runway having to shut at around 3.20pm for de-icing work.
On the roads drivers had to contend with hazardous conditions.
The AA had its busiest day on the roads in 10 years. By 3pm, it had attended around 16,000 breakdowns. Normally, for the whole of a Monday in December the AA would attend around 10,000 vehicles.
Transport Minister Sadiq Khan voiced the frustration of thousands of stranded passengers when he announced that an independent inquiry team set up to look into the Eurostar travel debacle would report directly to him.
Mr Khan said: “This has been a terrible experience for thousands of passengers, both those stranded on the trains and at the stations and the many thousands more who face having their Christmas holiday plans disrupted.”
Mr Brown said he was “very, very sorry” about the Eurostar train breakdowns which left thousands trapped in trains in the Channel Tunnel at the weekend.
He said modifications had been made to the trains to prevent snow getting into the electrics and that these modifications had been tested on trains yesterday.
Mr Brown said the weather in northern France, through which the 186mph trains travel, had been “unprecedented” and the worst in the company’s 15-year history.
This had created a new type of problem for the trains, one that the company had not experienced before.
Mr Brown said the independent inquiry was likely to have completed its report “in weeks rather than months”.
Domestic rail travellers were also hit by the weather, with buses replacing trains in areas including Surrey, Hampshire, Kent, Wales and Lancashire.