Britons braving ‘Manic Monday’ are today facing travel chaos on Eurostar after an IT glitch hit cross-Channel services between the UK and France.
Eurostar passengers say they are facing ‘nightmare’ queues at Gare Du Nord in Paris after a border control IT failure in France meant passengers could not board trains.
Pictures and video show huge queues at the terminal, where trains to London have been delayed by at least 30 minutes.
Some passengers say the queues are even longer – with one describing it as ‘carnage’ – while others said they are still waiting to board, despite Eurostar’s website saying their train has departed.
It comes as large queues – some even stretching out of the terminal building – were also seen at Manchester Airport this morning as a busy Easter Monday got underway.
At least 20 flights between Scotland and London have been cancelled by British Airways and easyJet. There have also been cancellations to Heathrow-bound flights from cities including Paris, Amsterdam and Geneva.
Meanwhile, the AA say up to 14million car journeys are expected to be made later for the rush to get home ahead of the working week.
The motoring group say roads are likely to be particularly busy today because all the traffic will be condensed into one day, unlike in the lead-up to Easter when it was staggered over several days.
Adding to the misery, more train passengers will push on the road with 530 rail upgrades – costing £83m – taking place tomorrow, experts say.
Millions of people hit roads, airports and the railways during the Easter getaway, with today expected to be particularly busy. Pictured: Long queues at the Eurostar terminal at Gare Du Nord, Paris, today
Eurostar passengers waiting in a long line at the Gare du Nord in Paris this morning as they prepared to return to the UK
Passengers queueing for check-in at 4.22am this morning at Manchester Airport
Queues for the underground car park at Manchester Airport’s Terminal 1 this morning
One Eurostar passenger, who was caught in the chaos in Paris, said he had faced more than an hour of delays at Gare Due Nord.
Charlie Daffern, 36, from Cheltenham, said: ‘It’s a nightmare here. We have been stood in the queue for check-in/security for over an hour and a half. Probably another hour to go.
‘People are becoming very restless and some people panicking as they have flights to catch from Heathrow this afternoon. I take it all with a pinch of salt. The main problem is lack of communication.’
Loic Kreseski, 25, who lives in Hackney, said ‘hundreds and hundreds’ were in queues at the station.
‘I heard French border officers saying that they had never seen that. People are upset due to the delays and the fact that you have to stand still for hours. It’s very upsetting when we know the price of the tickets.
‘I would say that easily more than a thousand people are queueing in Gare du Nord. (I am) frustrated especially when we know the price of the tickets, the lack of announcements and customer service.’
Another wrote on Twitter: ‘Absolute carnage at Paris Gare du Nord. Every train late, massive queues in the station and organised chaos.’
Meanwhile, at Manchester Airport, passengers were seen queuing outside a terminal building for security.
Lucie Spencer, 25, a salon owner from Lancashire, said customers were dealing with ‘frustrating’ and ‘annoying’ delays after her flight was held for over an hour due to apparent staff shortages.
She said: ‘Queues were very long, we were in Terminal 2. They moved consistently but slowly. The mood of the airport was generally calm but you could hear people moaning, of course, as it’s not fun standing in queues for so long.
‘It’s definitely due to major staff shortage, TUI had basically no check-in desks open, just self check-in, which seemed to cause the huge queue. Security was then huge queues as there was only three of eight security lanes open.
‘Queues to get in all bars and restaurants, meaning we had to give up to it so as to not miss our flight.
‘Still sat on plane, should have taken off at 8.30am but the luggage wasn’t loaded onto the plane in time.’
Continued chaos at airports over recent weeks has seen ministers come up with a plan to relax counterrorism checks for new staff so they can be deployed faster.
Staff are set to be trained in airports without security vetting but they will not be allowed to work with airside access to the planes and runways.
There is expected to be widespread travel chaos today as Brits return from their Easter getaways
A large line of passengers waiting to go through security at Manchester Airport early this morning
A busy queue for the baggage check-in at Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 on Bank Holiday Monday
Continued chaos at airports over recent weeks (including Heathrow, pictured today) has seen ministers come up with a plan to relax counterrorism checks for new staff so they can be deployed faster
Airlines and airports have been hit by a shortfall in the industry post-Covid due to a combination of sickness, staff shortages and more demand from the public which led to more delays at Heathrow, Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester.
Currently, security vetting can reportedly take twice as long as the 14 and 15 weeks it is supposed to be completed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and industry.
In a leaked letter, obtained by the Telegraph, Aviation minister Robert Courts said he will make these security changes in the coming weeks.
Warning of further disruption, Immigration Services Union general secretary Lucy Moreton said: ‘This weekend, catastrophically understaffed, with people travelling again, we anticipate queues will move from security-based queues going outward to Border Force queues coming back in.’
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘Rail engineering works lead to more road congestion as some people travel by car instead.’
And there is no respite on rail as around 500 replacement bus journeys over Easter turn usually rapid train trips into multi-change nightmares.
Holidaymakers are being warned to brace for another manic Monday of travel chaos with huge queues at airports and 14million cars on the road during the Easter bank holiday at the end of the long weekend. Pictured: Slow moving traffic on the M3 near Egham in Surrey on Friday.
Unlike the Easter getaway before the weekend which was staggered over several days, this will all be condensed into one day, British motoring association the AA has warned. Pictured: Passengers check-in at Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, west London on Saturday, April 9
Unions said airports also face queues at passport gates and luggage carousels as many who took Easter breaks abroad jet back into the UK tomorrow before school restarts on Tuesday. Pictured: Passengers check-in in terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport, west London on Saturday, April 9
West Coast Line works are seeing coaches used as almost 50 miles of the route is shut between London Euston and Milton Keynes.
And every Stansted Express rail traveller is being ferried by bus to and from the airport.
Richard Freeston-Clough, spokesman for passenger watchdog London TravelWatch, said: ‘More leisure rail journeys are taking place as it is Easter – but engineering projects mean disruption.’
A Network Rail spokesman said: ‘The vast majority of the network is open for business as usual. Where our projects are hitting services, we aim to keep disruption to a minimum by using alternative routes and using of buses as the last resort.’
Transport chiefs blamed the Easter travel surge on the public’s desire to make up for missing out on family visits and trips out during the pandemic.
The AA said drivers’ desire to travel had not been dented by soaring petrol costs, nor concerns over petrol station supplies running short after protestors Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion prevented tankers leaving some oil depots last week.
Mr Rich said: ‘People’s desire to travel is making this Easter a bit like Christmas, with people seeing friends and family after not seeing them very much during Covid.
‘Our survey shows people want to make the most of the holiday weekend. It shows the demand to do what we have missed during the past two years.
‘The weather is a factor, and encourages more travel, and people’s determination to go on trips outweighs concern over fuel costs.’