Britons hit - on air, rail and road
By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, Sep 12 (IANS) British travellers and commuters were
hit hard on a chaotic Friday after the collapse of one its
largest tour operators and a fire in the rail tunnel connecting
Britain with mainland Europe.
Some 85,000 Britons were reported to be stranded abroad after
the XL Leisure Group, Britain's the third largest package
holiday group, went into administration.
Many thousands were given the news at British airports as
they prepared to board their flights. Some 200,000 people
have advance booked holidays with the company, which flies
to 50 mainly-Mediterranean destinations, the Civil Aviation
"In respect of people who are currently abroad we're
making arrangements and working very closely with the travel
industry to organise repatriation flights.
"Clearly though, with XL Airways no longer operating,
we're having to bring in substitute aircraft to bring people
home," a CAA spokesman said.
Also, firefighters were Friday battling to control a blaze
that broke out Thursday afternoon in the undersea tunnel that
connects Britain with France and Belgium by rail.
The Eurotunnel fire broke out 11 km from the French town of
Calais after a Britain-bound lorry, which was carrying the
chemical phenol, reportedly overturned on the shuttle train.
Six people suffered the effects of smoke inhalation and dozens
had to be evacuated while thousands of travellers were stranded
in France and Britain.
Stranded lorries lined roads and highways in both countries
leading to Eurorail stations.
An offer of alternative ferry tickets in exchange for train
tickets led to thousands of passengers flooding the ports
of Calais and Dover.
That wasn't the end of commuter woes in Britain: hundreds
of drivers at two major London bus companies began a 48-hour
strike at midnight demanding a standard 30,000 pound salary
for all drivers across the bus network.
Indo-Asian News Service