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Eurostar cancels and delays trains due to Brexit-related labor woes

Eurostar cancels and delays trains due to Brexit-related labor woes
High-speed Eurostar trains leave and return from St. Pancras International station in London. (Eurostar)

Eurostar trains between Paris and London were canceled or delayed for more than three hours Monday as a slow-down by French customs officers — billed as a Brexit simulation — stretched into its seventh day. The rail company also canceled service on more than 50 London-Paris trains through the end of March because of the action.

French workers pressing for higher pay intended to show travelers what it might be like when Britain leaves the European Union, slated to happen March 29. The French government says it’s prepared for the transition, but workers aren’t so sure.

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The result Monday was long waits and frustrated travelers at places such as the Gare du Nord in Paris, from which Eurostar trains regularly take off for the 2 hour and 15 minute trip to London. The company took to social media to advise frustrated travelers that some trains were canceled and that others would be departing up to 3½ hours late.

Eurostar advised passengers to file for a refund or exchange their tickets on its website. It also recommended following @Eurostar on Twitter for updates.

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May lost a bid for a Brexit divorce deal, with no clear path out of its decades-long partnership with the European Union. Her plan was defeated by a vote of 391 to 242.

Meanwhile, French workers at train stations and ports have engaged in what’s technically a “work to rule” action, meaning they perform only the minimum tasks their contract requires. It started March 4.

The slowdown Monday also disrupted ports in and near Calais where the Channel Tunnel links southern England and northern France, and some flights to ski destinations such as Grenoble in the French Alps.

“Our aim is to attract attention to our worsening conditions of work, which will only get worse once Brexit happens," Vincent Thomazo, UNSA trade union spokesman, told the French news website the Local.

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