The Structure of Chaos

Well, our trip to Paris yesterday didn’t happen. Our 9:22 Eurostar train never left the station, due to the chaos of Friday night. Last night, a sixth train was down, and even the rescue train had problems reaching it to rescue passengers.

All services are canceled again today, and I don’t have faith that tomorrow will be “all better” for the 30,000 travelers affected, so we’re working on canceling our apartment rental and staying in London for the holidays. The kids aren’t too sad that we’re going out for a tree today.

Now that I’m seeing videos of how Friday night Eurostar passengers were moved from dark and hot stranded trains to car-carrying Eurostar units, I’m thinking of parallels. Basically five trains went down, 2500 people were stranded, and they were moved through the tunnel in the open, box-car like car carriers. Images and videos show large groups standing, sitting, and laying in the dirty boxes late at night.

Of course, just a few nights ago, I was watching a Titantic special with James Cameron, and it was hard not to think of the life rafts when seeing the car carriers of passengers and their luggage. Eurostar is normally considered a real step up from typical English trains, with nicer seats and tables and wine, but not Friday night.

On the Titantic, there were “villains” who boarded life boats when they weren’t supposed to, or launched lifeboats that were only one third full. This morning, the press is talking about how model Claudia Schiffer was taken away from her First Class seat by a private car after the breakdown, while the other 2500 passengers were left to wait.

Eurostar has taken a long, deep scrape below the waterline. No, it’s not going to sink, but at the moment their service appears neither safe nor reliable. The Times is already reporting this could have been avoided, since something similar happened to two Eurostar trains back in February, and right now it appears the company is at a loss about how to recover in these not-that-terrible weather conditions.

Biggest complaint from the passengers– bad communication. Even using Twitter updates would have been better than nothing, it appears. Meanwhile, we reset our minds for a London Christmas, and I have a mean streak in mind developing around the idea of a very non-traditional Christmas Day dinner (which in general is the high point, given that even the London Underground closes on Christmas Day).

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