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SteveMilner

Rethinking Eurotunnel

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Previous to this year, in 2017, I used Eurotunnel for my outbound trip for my trip to Europe and was so impressed with the experience I thought I'd use them for both outbound and inbound this year.

 

That might have been a mistake.

 

On the 25th July we had huge delays - About 4 hours outbound with various reasons being cited on the information boards and from staff members. The terminal car park was rammed with people parking all over the place. When I was finally called I ended up not being able to proceed for fear of hitting a German motor home with the van (we were less than half an inch away) but finally thanks to some assistance and driving over the kerb I managed to move forward.

 

To some extent that was understandable due to the heat that day, but to be honest I expect the system to be able to cope - Apparently the reasons for delays was failing air conditioning units. Surely these should be tested to cope with unusual extremes.

 

During check in I went through the process and I was reminded that on my inbound journey I would need to visit the pet check in terminal for the appropriate pet passport checks etc.

 

On the 20th August when we did visit the pet terminal we were dealt with by a very rude person who was annoyed that they had no record of a pet on the outward leg - Cobblers I got the relevant info on the ticket to hang on the mirror - The dog is on the booking details sent by CMC.

 

Needless to say that took a while - Then things were running slowly through main check in - All the lanes seemed to go down to 1 after check in - But we still completed check in just over 50 minutes before departure time only to be told by the system that we had checked in too late and we would be put on the next train - 30 minute delay.

 

So which is they typical experience of most on here?

 

Smooth and slick

Delays and Incompetence.

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I have used Eurotunnel return for over 10 years (Tesco Vouchers)Only once I have faced delay but it was only about 1 hour. I like the flexibility of arriving early and allowed to board an early train.

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Very smooth most of the time but delays can get long quickly on busy days if they get problems.

Have not used the ferries for years but are on the tunnel frequent traveller scheme.

 

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I have used the tunnel for years and generally without drama but when I first used it in 94/95 when it hadn't been open long it broke down and I was stuck on the train under the sea for hours, no apology or any refreshments.

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We used the tunnel all the time before buying the caravan but haven’t used it since. Only twice have these occasions been in the summer holidays although due to other commitments we tended to go out at the very end of July and come back mid August which seems to avoid the mass bulk of people leaving as soon as school breaks up and coming back at the end of the first week in August.

 

The reality is that the tunnel is now over a quarter of a century old and much of the rolling stock seems to be from that era; if there is any issues then outside of the school summer holiday there is sufficient slack on the system to cope but they work at 100% in the holidays which gives no slack at all.

 

As it is, we always now book a western crossing and it always feels a much better experience.

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Can anyone advise about taking dogs abroad?  I assume OK in the Eurotunnel, they travel with you, but do they stay in the car if you use the ferry?

 

Also, how is the access on the train when towing a van? Same as solo from the side, or drive on from the back, and do they keep vans together, or mixed in with HGV's ?

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Something else to consider if you have a wide caravan is that they only just fit, my caravan is 2.5m wide and there are only a couple of inches between the wheels and the walkway kerbs and the train is 750m long so if you're not careful you could damage your tyre sidewalls.

6 minutes ago, Dave Capiro owner said:

Can anyone advise about taking dogs abroad?  I assume OK in the Eurotunnel, they travel with you, but do they stay in the car if you use the ferry?

 

Also, how is the access on the train when towing a van? Same as solo from the side, or drive on from the back, and do they keep vans together, or mixed in with HGV's ?

They stay in your car on both the ferry and the tunnel but you stay in your car with them on the tunnel.

Anything over 1.85m in height goes on the single deck carriages (large 4x4's, vans, caravans, buses) HGV's go on seperate 'open' carriages. 

Access for caravans is the same as solo, plenty of room, my outfit is 13m long and access isn't an issue.

Edited by Borussia 1900
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2 hours ago, SteveMilner said:

So which is they typical experience of most on here?

Smooth and slick

Delays and Incompetence.

 

To get back to your question.

My daughters and I do day trips on Eurotunnel about four times a year - usually on a Saturday.   The last two trips have been marred by long delays of up to three hours each time.      Reason on one occasion was a broken down train in the tunnel: the other an illegal immigrant on the line.   It seems that when a back log has to be cleared, the freight trains take priority.   

Following the most recent delay, I did begin to wonder if it happened most Saturdays so I checked the "Latest Information" page to see.   It seems we were just unlucky. 

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2 hours ago, Dave Capiro owner said:

Also, how is the access on the train when towing a van? Same as solo from the side, or drive on from the back, and do they keep vans together, or mixed in with HGV's ?

 

HGVs are carried in trains made up of caged waggons and the drivers don't travel with their vehicle.   They travel in a passenger compartment in the middle of the train.   Caravans travel in single deck carriages, attached to the car trains.  The single deck carriages have  larger doors. 

 

Edited by Jaydug

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Steve, I am afraid that travel is not an exact science.  Even if you "rethink" the tunnel and travel some other way the delays may still be there. We ourselves had a three hour wait tor a ferry in sleepy Roscoff a few weeks ago,  and anyone hoping to sail from UK to Spain at 6 pm. tonight will find their ferry is currently running 4.5 hours late.  At least they can go to the pub while they wait. 

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2 minutes ago, moorgate said:

Steve, I am afraid that travel is not an exact science.  Even if you "rethink" the tunnel and travel some other way the delays may still be there. We ourselves had a three hour wait tor a ferry in sleepy Roscoff a few weeks ago,  and anyone hoping to sail from UK to Spain at 6 pm. tonight will find their ferry is currently running 4.5 hours late.  At least they can go to the pub while they wait. 

 

I think the frustration for me is in the system. Parking in the channel ferry ports tends to be well organised even when delayed.  And also the ferries tend to have a delay time and you more or less know where you are. When I checked in it was a 90 minute delay that turned into 4 hours progressively over time which is very frustrating. You think you're going somewhere only to have your hopes dashed.

 

And I've never had any trouble with the pet passport scheme on the ferries - I've no idea why the person went off on one about not knowing about the dog. In 2017 we left via the tunnel and returned P & O Calais to Dover. As well as several times ferry only - No one has ever worried about the outbound journey regarding the dog. Must just have been an off day for the person. Perhaps they didn't like where I parked the outfit at Eurotunnel pet terminal, but there's no parking slots for car and caravan.

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3 hours ago, Dave Capiro owner said:

Can anyone advise about taking dogs abroad?  I assume OK in the Eurotunnel, they travel with you, but do they stay in the car if you use the ferry?

 

Also, how is the access on the train when towing a van? Same as solo from the side, or drive on from the back, and do they keep vans together, or mixed in with HGV's ?

When crossing using the ferry we always put the dogs in the caravan.  They have water, biscuits and their own beds to lie in.

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11 minutes ago, Durbanite said:

When crossing using the ferry we always put the dogs in the caravan.  They have water, biscuits and their own beds to lie in.

That's a great idea!  Many thanks.

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8 hours ago, FrankBullet said:

 

 

The reality is that the tunnel is now over a quarter of a century old and much of the rolling stock seems to be from that era; if there is any issues then outside of the school summer holiday there is sufficient slack on the system to cope but they work at 100% in the holidays which gives no slack at all.

Good point

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As an update....

 

I wrote an complained to Eurotunnel about these problems - 3 weeks later they wrote back asking for my booking reference, which I supplied. They said that since I had booked with CMC I should complain to them.

 

I passed my complaint to CMC along with the correspondence from Eurotunnel. 

 

4 weeks after the complaint I got a refund of my return journey costs.

 

Result!

Edited by SteveMilner
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On 03/09/2019 at 12:42, Borussia 1900 said:

I have used the tunnel for years and generally without drama but when I first used it in 94/95 when it hadn't been open long it broke down and I was stuck on the train under the sea for hours, no apology or any refreshments.

A similar thing happened to me, but the hold up wasn't hours, more like 30 mins, but because the air conditioning had gone off, it was getting very hot by the time we started to limp slowly out.

13 minutes ago, SteveMilner said:

As an update....

 

I wrote an complained to Eurotunnel about these problems - 3 weeks later they wrote back asking for my booking reference, which I supplied. They said that since I had booked with CMC I should complain to them.

 

I passed my complaint to CMC along with the correspondence from Eurotunnel. 

 

4 weeks after the complaint I got a refund of my return journey costs.

 

Result!

From whom did the refund come? CMC or Eurotunnel?

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It came from CMC who were reimbursed by Eurotunnel

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I am a fan of crossings that take me where I want to go, so if going south to Spain or Portugal its Brittany Ferries either to Normandy or straight to Spain. If going East its  North Sea Ferries from Hull to Rotterdam or Zeebrugge.  Living where I do Calais crossings would need to be free before I drove down to Kent when we can enjoy an evening onboard and hit the road "running" in the morning.

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We have used the tunnel with Tesco vouchers for years without issue.  But our return journey this year was delayed.  We were given the reason as a breakdown so that could not be avoided.  What did get to me was our boarding letter was not kept up to date, earlier and later letters were informed but ours was all over the place, at one time the info board said we had left.  The staff seemed unconcerned, but it was disconcerting not knowing if we were still being processed.

 

John

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On 03/09/2019 at 11:52, SteveMilner said:

To some extent that was understandable due to the heat that day, but to be honest I expect the system to be able to cope - Apparently the reasons for delays was failing air conditioning units. Surely these should be tested to cope with unusual extremes.

 

 

The company I work for is in the AC / Refrigeration Buisness - so to answer your question  - No they are not and this is because of how they work

 

Systems are setup to cool / heat to the average ambient temperatures within the locality they are in 

So they will be able to cool to X deg  below outside air temperature and heat to Y deg above outside air temperature 

If they arre setup beyond their design parameters then they will fail (normally Ice up inside or out) in normal ambient operation

Of course they can be designed / built  to  work over a larger range but this means more cost and customers will not pay for this

Ground Source heat pumps work better at extemes than air Source as the ground tempearture is  more stable - But there is a greater intalation cost

 

We have this all the time in very hot weather, big supermarkets are not to bad as they know that they will only work to a certain outside tempearture smaller stores don't they expect miracles!

 

 

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