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Eurostar to resume normal service after weekend of ‘Chunnel’ disruptions

Eurostar is set to resume normal services on Monday after a weekend that saw disruptions caused by a lorry fire and an electrical glitch in the Channel Tunnel.

“The entire tunnel will not be repaired tomorrow, but there will be parts which will have been repaired that will facilitate more traffic in the tunnel, which will allow us to operate a normal service,” Eurostar’s chief executive Nicolas Petrovic told AFP.

Eurostar, which offers passenger rail services linking London, Brussels and Paris, had to cancel 11 trains, while other traffic faced delays of up to five hours.

Only one of the two tunnels linking Britain and France was in service on Sunday.

“Chunnel” operators Eurotunnel said on their website that northbound passengers could face delays of around six hours, while those heading south could be delayed by four hours.

Sunday’s electrical incident, which occurred around 1000 GMT, shut down the tunnel for two hours, adding to passenger woes after Saturday’s fire had already forced thousands to rearrange their travel plans.

Eurostar passengers affected will be able to either exchange their tickets or get reimbursed, Petrovic said.

A Eurotunnel spokesperson confirmed to AFP that there were ongoing “inspections in the tunnels”.

Officials in Pas-de-Calais, at the French end of the tunnel, told AFP that the electrical problem had occurred on the English side and that no one was injured.

Some 400 trains and 1.5 million lorries pass through the tunnel every day.

Saturday’s fire forced all Eurostar trains already en route to turn back to their stations of origin, while 42 people were evacuated through a service tunnel.

Police in England said the fire was “at the French end of the tunnel” and was being dealt with by the French authorities, adding that there were no reported injuries.

Although the incident did not cause major damage, “there was a lot of smoke,” said Denis Gaudin, an official from Calais.

The fire sparked travel chaos in Britain and France with long queues for refunds reported at London’s St Pancras station, the Eurostar terminus.

In November 2012, a fire on a freight train halted traffic in the tunnel for two hours.

Four years earlier, a lorry fire caused major damage in the tunnel, affecting 650 metres (2,100 feet) of the structure and halting traffic for 30 hours.

For many passengers on the popular line, the chaos Saturday meant an extended stay in either France or Britain — or doing things the old fashioned way and going by ferry.