Today’s Daily Star has uncovered a dastardly plot. A plot so dastardly that it involves jobs – sorry, Our Jobs – the rotten French, and trains, which the Desmond hackery doesn’t understand if their crews talk foreign. This fresh and suitably steaming pile of bullpucky has then been re-heated by the Express and even picked up by the Mail. And it’s complete and utter fantasy from start to finish.
India in the EU? Whatever, they're all foreigners
Under the by-line of Ed Riley, the Star gasps in horror “Unemployed French workers will be packed off on cut-price trains to find jobs in Britain”. The Star was so flush with cash that it had to use a stock photo showing the coast of, er, India. The Express piles in with “A French plot to send hordes of unemployed workers to snatch our jobs sparked outrage last night” (It’s always “last night” at the Express).
Big nasty garlic crunching engine coming for your jobs
At least the Express managed a stock photo of a French train. But, sadly for the Desmond press and the usual dubious array of rent-a-quote politicians – Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, the self-promoting Priti Patel, and (to his shame) Damian Green – this story is complete crap, as is the guff about “Officials in Calais were studying the plans and a consultant’s study will be published next month”.
But how can I be so sure? After all, it all looks to have been investigated and worked out: “The plan will use French regional commuter trains on the high speed Eurostar rail link between Calais and Ashford in Kent” says the Star. But have another look at that statement: Eurostar is a service running through the Channel Tunnel, not a rail link. Someone hasn’t done their research.
Eurostar (the train) at St Pancras International
I’ll go further: there hasn’t been any research done. At all. I can be sure of this, because a few minutes’ investigation would reveal that no operator can just send any train of their choosing through the Channel Tunnel in passenger carrying service. At present, the only such trains permitted at the Eurostar sets, and they must meet stringent safety criteria.
These – overseen by the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission – include the ability to split the train in case of emergency, and stipulate the train length, the latter being matched to the distance between access passages to the central service tunnel. When German operator DB wants permission to run trains through the Tunnel, it too will have to show that its offering meets the spec.
And all this is before adapting the trains to use the Tunnel’s signalling system, then getting paths through a tunnel that is already busy with vehicle shuttle traffic. Then siding and servicing space would be needed at Ashford for trains that would be too large to use the UK’s own rail network. It’s not going to happen.
Thus a story that is pure invention. Making up copy to frighten the readers? That’ll be another Benchmark Of Excellence.