All Eurotunnel services have been suspended following shock strikes by French staff

All Eurotunnel services were unexpectedly canceled today after French staff announced a last-minute strike, wreaking havoc on Christmas travel plans.

At least 24 Eurostar trains have been canceled and a further four have been forced to return to their starting point after the strike began.

A statement on Eurotunnel's website said: “Due to industrial action our service has been suspended. Customers are advised that as a consequence of this incident, access to our website is currently unavailable.

“If you are traveling today, please make alternative arrangements or amend your booking. Such incidents are extremely rare and we are grateful for your patience.”

The action is said to be over a dispute over year-end bonus pay, which has been rejected by unions.

On its travel updates page, Eurostar said trains to and from London are currently suspended and all services have been canceled until at least 7pm.

The train operator urged all passengers in a post on X to postpone their journey, adding that they had no information about tomorrow's timetables.

“Today's call for strike action by French union representatives of Eurotunnel site staff has resulted in a complete disruption of services and the closure of our terminals in France and the UK,” said a spokesman for Getlink, the company that operates the Eurotunnel. Email statement to Reuters.

The company added that unions had rejected a €1,000 (£867) bonus payment announced by management, calling for the amount to be tripled.

The company's union officials were not immediately available for comment.

Many posts on social media from people trying to get to London or Paris for Christmas earlier said they were stuck on trains or train stations, with some reporting that the trains may have returned to their departure stations.

One social media account said he was stuck outside the tunnel for over an hour, while another said his train was returning to London St Pancras.

The station was thrown into chaos as people traveling ahead of the Christmas weekend found themselves stranded in London.

Chaos ensued at the other end of the line in Paris. A passenger shared a photo of the busy terminal as people tried to leave.

Greg Hunts, minister for London, posted on X that he understands all trains from London to Paris have been canceled until 7pm on Thursday.

Passengers are advised to check the travel updates on the Eurostar website for the latest information.

More on this fascinating story to come…