Last night I saw a couple of tweets from people saying they were waiting for friends to arrive in London from Paris on a Eurostar train. I thought nothing of it. But gradually it emerged that the train had become stuck in the tunnel underneath the Channel, trapping 2,000 passengers.
This morning it appears hundreds of passengers are still trapped, languishing on a siding, even after the train had been pulled from the tunnel. It is a failure of monumental proportions. Some passengers were evacuated by a filthy car transport train, but many more still remain on the original Eurostar train.
Reading tweets this morning I was struck at how many people felt like they had no idea what was going on. The lack of information on suck a big accident was staggering.
Meanwhile it’s emerged that technology PR Colette Ballou, founder of Ballou PR, in Paris – which represents both Facebook in France and a number of France’s hottest tech startups – has been stuck on the Eurostar 9059 train for over 15 hours without food or water. Although her twitter account is protected she has given me permission to highlight her anger about the situation. This tweet was sent two hours ago, around 8.30am:
Meanwhile, the Eurostar Twitter account, which could well have been used to communicate to passengers about what was going on – and loved ones at home – is being used by someone in Shanghai.
Well done Eurostar, well done. Great brand protection. Great foresight.
As far as I can tell, one lone Eurostar employee just joined to try and send out information on what happens next.
UPDATE: It turns out Eurostar is on Twitter, after a fashion, but is not using it during this crisis.
It owns a Twitter account at @little_break, allied to its marketing site Littlebreakbigdifference.com. This was registered and run by “conversation agency” Wearesocial.net. This is an agency which claims to be expert in the use of social media platforms like Twitter to communicate with the public. They appear to be slow to waking up to the crisis.
At the same time there is an official Twitter account for @Eurostar_uk. The last Tweet from this account was on December 16. Here is is:
@coletteballou has contacted a friend via phone, who has passed on this from her: “Baby has run out of diapers. How hard is it to get us these things? We can *see* stores from here… Still outside of Eurotunnel. Another baby has run out of food, the mother is asking for help. Is this a 1st world country?”
Just to put this in context – as of 11.30am this morning she has been stuck in Folkestone for 7 hours (that’s 7 hours after they left the tunnel) and 15 hours after leaving Paris.
Meanwhile, the @Little_Break twitter account used by Eurostar’s marketing people says only that “we’re currently awaiting more news for a full update, please see http://www.eurostar.com for advise on the disruption to service”
UPDATE III: Eurostar customers are receiving email newsletters from Eurostar’s marketing team which don’t mention the crisis but are suggesting to passengers that they “give a continental gift this christmas”.
UPDATE IV: Eurostar Belgium Twitter account has now flickered into life, 16 hrs after the accident.
UPDATE V: (12.12pm). @coletteballou now says: “Some girls have raided bar and handing out cokes and rum. Only service we get is from other passengers.”
UPDATE VII: (12.47pm) We’re getting word that the final passengers are now on their way to Kinds Cross, including @coletteballou.
UPDATE VIII: It turns out the @Eurostar_Uk is NOT AN OFFICIAL twitter account. It has now been suspended.
UPDATE VIV: WeAreSocial eventually put their side of the story here at 11.37pm.