/ Channel Tunnel punctuality

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pec on 11 Jan 2017
I came back from France at the weekend via the Tunnel, this was the 4th return trip I've made using it. On all 8 journeys I've been delayed by between 1/2 and 3 hours over my booked time even though I've always arrived well in advance.
The worst delays have always been returning from France where the system appears to be chaotic. On every occasion they employ a different arrangement for dealing with the backlog, non of which seem to prioritise people according to their booked departure time, it seems to be something of a lottery.

I only use the tunnel when reducing the journey time is a priority, normally I go on a ferry but I'm starting to wonder whether its worth the bother.
Have I been unlucky 8 times or is it always like this?
James Jackson on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

I've used the tunnel loads (I used to commute faire frequently to / from Europe), and continue to do so over using the ferry. I've only ever been delayed once, when a vehicle on the train caught fire a few years ago.
Tom V - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

From my expereience, you have been unlucky 8 times.
Dax H - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

I have only used it 8 times, been delayed twice.
I have actually had the opposite problem more often of turning up a hour early thinking I will get something to eat and use the toilet but the auto check in machine at the barrier not giving my say the 7pm slot I booked and replacing it with a 6.15 instead with no time to even have a quick pee.
Mal Grey - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

Travelled 6 times.

2 longish delays (hour+, one each direction), 1 minor, 2 bumped forward to earlier train (happy with that) and 1 on time!

Both delays were on obvious holiday travelling days. One was due to a fire alarm at Calais though stuck at UK end, the other due to sheer volume of traffic returning after Whitsun week really. Agree that Calais seems pretty random in terms of organisation when busy.

Jim Hamilton - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

Not unlucky - just travelling at popular times. The Calais side Border Control infrastructure can't cope. Is Outbound ok with the new(ish) controls?
1poundSOCKS - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

> I only use the tunnel when reducing the journey time is a priority, normally I go on a ferry but I'm starting to wonder whether its worth the bother.

I paid extra to use the tunnel and save time. Got delayed and it was slower than any ferry crossing I've done. Plus it's a rubbish experience. I like the ferry crossing, getting out of the car for a couple of hours, getting out on deck with the gulls and watching the white cliffs recede. Then get a coffee and relax in a comfy chair and read my book for a while. Always ferry these days.
Trangia on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Tom V:

> From my experience, you have been unlucky 8 times.

Agreed. I've used it countless times, at different times of the day, and rarely have a problem. I always aim to check in early and frequently get the choice of going on an earlier departure. The only times I've hit delays have been during industrial action when chaos can reign, also when the French fishermen are blockading the ferry port. Surprisingly during the ash cloud crisis a few years ago when flights were grounded I had no problem getting home using the tunnel with an on the spot booking in my Spanish car after a 2 day drive up from southern Spain. I have also experience long delays when there have been breakdowns or deaths on the track in the tunnel reducing the service substantially.
Hat Dude on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Dax H:

IIRC it gives you the option of your booked time or an earlier one
Tony & Sarah - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

Hi Pec , I think you have been a little unlucky, we are regular tunnel users 40/50 trips. Only had 2 holdups, 1 on each side, big oil spillage in one of the carriages. Normally we suffer from wanting a pee & coffee and getting put on an earlier train.

Sarah
Neil Williams - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

If journey time was a priority I'd fly.

Otherwise, ferry. It's just more civilised.
GrahamD - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

There are delays at busy peak times (especially if you have a high vehicle or trailer), at other times you get the option to go on the first available crossing. I've lost count of the number of times I've used it but on the majority of crossings I've turned up early and been earlier than scheduled.

I don't think the published times mean much, though.
Tony & Sarah - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Neil Williams:
I didn't know the Silver City was still running.

Sarah

Post edited at 09:53
Doug on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

I've used it frequently although not in the last year & have never had problems, and appreciate often being able to get on an earlier crossing. Used to prefer the ferry when I was travelling to/from Scotland as the break was useful but in recent years I've usually been going to/from my sister's who lives in Wiltshire so would rather just get the journey finished.
Offwidth - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Tony & Sarah:

You get to choose your slot if you are early, as someone has pointed out above. The earliest always gave us time for a coffee and a pee anyhow... just... (like ropework, efficiency is important).

I've been delayed a few times but the queuing system they used was fair and efficient and unlike most British trains their initial delay estimate was pessimistic.
nniff - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

Used the ferry innumerable times without delay. Tunnel - about a 50% delay rate
Dax H - on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to Hat Dude:

> IIRC it gives you the option of your booked time or an earlier one

Normally yes but on 2 occasions it only gave me one option that saw me rushing through to get on the train.
The last time I used it I had ridden from Monaco through the alps and been on the road for 17 hours and was actually looking forward to eating the crap they call food in the terminal but no time at all.
pec on 12 Jan 2017
In reply to pec:

Thanks for the replies. Seems like I've been unlucky or perhaps its because I'm constrained by school holidays although they ought to expect that so there's no excuse for the chaotic (lack of) organisation on the French side.
I only use it when skiing and I've got to get to the Alps and back in a week with 6 clear days in between, otherwise I use the ferry as its cheaper but if I have another long delay I might abandon it as the ferry wouldn't take any longer.

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