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Confronting volcano chaos

On the train here from Cologne, one woman locked herself in the toilet to avoid being ejected by the police. She'd done nothing worse than attempt to travel without a reserved seat, though she had a valid ticket for the route.

Last modified: 20 Apr 2010 15:05
Photo by Jonah Hull

Day two, hour 30 on our journey home to London from Krakow in Poland and finally we appear to have reached the heart of what's being described as Volcano Chaos in Europe.

Well, not really. Most people seem pretty stoic in the face of the long queues. Think of bored Brits abroad and you realise things could be so much worse.

But if you haven't already got a Eurostar ticket, we're told, you aren't going to get one today. That's disappointing.

On the train here from Cologne, one woman locked herself in the toilet to avoid being ejected by the police.

She'd done nothing worse than attempt to travel without a reserved seat, though she had a valid ticket for the route.

We were in the same boat, er, train, which was over-booked leaving Cologne and the German railway authorities were trying to move standing passengers off the high-speed train and onto replacement buses instead.

 They appeared most offended by those of us who didn't speak German. That's because most of us were just pretending not to understand - you don't have to be a linguist to know when you're being thrown off a train.

I felt most sorry for a Brazilian mother and her two young kids. She barely spoke English let alone German and just did what she was told by the stern female guard with the large, holstered weapon.

She clambered off, laden with luggage, stammering forlornly about first losing her flights and then losing her hotel and now losing her train. I don't think she knew there were buses that might take her onwards.

Having successfully stood our ground the train eventually moved off. A ten-minute stop later on because of a technical fault might have turned tempers nasty. But it was short-lived.

The tanoy announced eurostar would helpfully wait for passengers delayed by the fault. Those who had tickets.

At the station the couple clutching Eurostar tickets they'd earlier described as 'like gold' got off first and beetled away out of sight. We had no such golden tickets, and we're standing in Brussels-midi now trying to figure out what to do next.

A taxi to Calais seems like a reasonable idea. Apparently the British Royal Navy is on its way.