Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Problems when you least expect them

Hi Ferfal,
I just read your book - fantastic advice and excellent reading. Enjoying the blog as always but the book really is a fine work. Congratulations on your achievement.

Now another thing you might be interested in - this time from far away.
SHTF on the trains in Europe. Apparently passengers being stranded in trains, in the dark for days under the English Channel in the 'Chunnel'. I wonder how many had sufficient preparation to survive that event comfortably.

It shows that you don't need the world to collapse, a simple act of nature, on a usually no fuss train trip can leave you without food or water, hoping that the people around you are benign.

This extract from a witness understates it a bit I think

The Eurostar connects London and Paris. Last Friday, several trains entered the tunnel and stopped. According to the press reports, the weather was unusually cold in France and unusually warm in the tunnel, causing some sort of malfunction and stranding 2,000 travelers under the dark water and thousands more on both sides of the channel. It was a blow to France's pride; the French consider their train technology to be the best in the world. Yesterday, President Sarkozy called the head of the Eurostar and chewed him out...and this morning, the trains were meant to be running again.

We rose at 5AM to rush to the Gare du Nord, so we could get the 6:43 to London.

"You're going to take the Eurostar," said the taxi driver with a laugh. "Well...good luck..."

When we got there, it was obvious something was wrong. Passengers weren't lining up in an orderly fashion. Instead, hundreds of travelers who had been waiting three days for a train formed a miserable, complaining mob. We were just trying to figure out what was going on when a phalanx of police came down the steps, followed by another group of Eurostar staff members. They wandered around...formed up the passengers into lines...answered questions and then, nothing happened. We waited. We waited.

"This is intolerable," one French passenger yelled at a young woman in uniform. "You people have no respect for your customers. We've been waiting days to get back to our families...and you treat us like cattle. It wasn't our fault the trains didn't run as they were supposed to. It was your fault. And you should have done a better job of dealing with the trouble you caused."

Passengers trapped on board broken-down Eurostar trains for up to 16 hours have been talking about their ordeals.
More than 2,000 people were trapped inside the Channel Tunnel for hours after five trains suffered electrical failure due to freezing conditions.
One commuter called the experience a "complete nightmare".
Eurostar ran a limited service but later cancelled three of the four trains due to leave London on Saturday and scrapped all services for Sunday.
It said the cancellations were made due to ongoing concerns with the weather.
Passenger Meena Wells said there were angry scenes when these were announced.
She said: "People were shouting, screaming and crying. They are very upset and actually refusing to leave the platform."
Some test trains will run on Sunday but will not carry passengers.
Meanwhile, police have urged motorists to stay away from major routes around Dover and Folkestone unless their journey is essential.
Continued delays are expected on the M20 and other routes because of the tunnel problems and severe weather preventing ferries disembarking at Calais.
... Elsewhere freezing conditions caused travel disruption in the south and east of England and blizzards caused dozens of accidents across Scotland.
Flights in and out of London suffered delays, with 26 cancellations throughout the day at Heathrow Airport, a BAA spokesperson said.
Breakdown recovery service the AA said call-outs were up 250% on a normal Saturday to around 20,000, and more snow is expected in Wales, Northern Ireland and northern England.
During the Eurostar delays some passengers were stuck on a train for up to seven hours in sidings in Folkestone.
Lucy Morris' 2hr 20min journey from Paris took her more than 16 hours.
She was stuck in the Channel Tunnel for about five hours and after her train was towed out, she was transferred on to another train, which was stuck in the sidings

Thanks again for your book.


Hey William, glad you liked it.

Sure, that's why preparedness is mostly about mindset and a way of life no matter what's going on.

This should remind us of the importance of wisely chosen every day cary gear.

No need for a ton of stuff, but there are some minimum things you should have, including a multitool, flashlight, lighter, spare cash, bottle of water, something to eat and a space blanket, even if its not really cold.

Thanks William, take care.



EN said...

I always carry a space blanket in my shoulder bag and two if I've got a partner. Never used them once but during winter time once would be enough.

chinasyndrome said...

Real fine post,everyone getting ready for The big one,when it could be a little that gets ya.

Anonymous said...

It's not just in foreign countries. I work in Manhattan. and a few years back, a massive blackout hit for about 20 hours. There was no violence (this time, unlike the NYC blackout of '77) but it was a total mess. I walked to the bus station to get home to New Jersey, and there were approximately 25,000 people in front of the locked terminal. I walked about 30 blocks uptown through completely clogged intersections, where vehicles were stuck in every direction, unable to move. Throngs of people wedged in between. The police did absolutely nothing, not even answering questions that we all had- simply shrugged their shoulders with an "I don't know, or care" attitude. Regular civilians directed traffic as best they could, while the cops stood in clumps and chatted ( I guess about the scary possibility that the flow of donuts into the city would be disrupted). I learned that day- and this was after the horrors of 9-11 (which was even worse) that you better have your own plan, with your own gear, because nobody will be helping you.