Eurostar Trains Caught in Winter Chaos in Europe

The French government expressed outrage Monday over the breakdown of Eurostar cross-Channel trains that has stranded tens of thousands of people as deadly winter transport chaos spread across Europe.

A car that veered off an icy road caused the derailment of a Paris commuter train, injuring 36 people and adding to the agony of a system badly hit by a 12-day old strike. Another commuter train in the Croatian capital hit a buffer Monday injuring 50 people.

Six people were killed in accidents in Germany and three in Austria. More flights were cancelled in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and many main highways were blocked across Europe where some regions had more than two feet (50 centimetres) of snow.

The breakdown of the Eurostar rail service under the Channel, linking London to Paris and Brussels, has symbolised Europe's suffering.

After the nightmare of more than 2,000 people stuck in the tunnel when five trains broke down, tens of thousands more people have missed trains that have been cancelled since Friday night.

With no services planned until at least Tuesday, France's Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau ordered an investigation into the breakdown, which Eurostar said has been caused by trains unable to handle the change from freezing temperatures outside to warm temperatures in the tunnel, AFP reports.

Eurostar promised an update for passengers only at the end of the day as it investigates what made five trains break down inside the Channel Tunnel over the weekend, trapping 2,000 passengers without air conditioning for up to 16 hours.

The evacuation was delayed by an apparent breakdown in communication between Eurostar and Eurotunnel. Passengers said that they were treated like animals and left mostly in darkness without food, drink or working toilets.

Nick Mercer, commercial director of Eurostar, said there were rumours that something had been done to the trains which failed but that this was "absolutely not" the case.

He said a "winterisation" process had taken place during which technical adjustments were made to the trains and a “standard set of procedures” was followed, Times Online reports.

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said he had asked for the review to report not to the Eurostar board but to him and to shareholders. He said he would be speaking to his French and Belgian counterparts about the issue.

"Thousands and thousands of families are having their Christmas ruined this year," he said.

A statement on the company's website said it "sincerely regretted" having to halt services for a third day, BBC News reports.

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