Eurostar’s snow crisis report released

Further to our previous post on Eurostar’s pre-Christmas snow crisis, today has seen the release of an independent report into the crisis, commissioned by the company.

This BBC story is among the most balanced pieces covering the release of the report (I haven’t been able to find a copy of the report itself, so if any of our intrepid readers want to forward a copy we’d love to receive it).

What’s to be expected is that across the board, media coverage focuses on the specific problems and who’s to blame, and in this respect it doesn’t disappoint. What I would have liked to see is a bit more prominent reference to the solutions. We’ll just have to be happy with Eurostar’s commitment to invest £30-plus million in implementing all of the review’s recommendations. It’s encouraging to see that communication featured prominently in the three core recommendations handed down by the reviewers:

  • Train reliability – engineering improvements to enhance the reliability of its trains
  • Evacuation and rescue – improvements should be made to tunnel evacuation and rescue procedures, to ensure passengers can be transported from the tunnel quickly and effectively
  • Managing disruption and improving communication – improvements to assist passengers better and provide more effective communication in times of disruption.

The key word here is “effective”. Communication for its own sake is pointless at the best of times, and a downright detriment during a crisis.

There have been a number of references over the past weeks about the importance of learning from previous experience and today’s report reinforces that message.

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Richard Holligan, Eurostar

You can find Eurostar’s official response to today’s independent review here: and follow us on twitter @eurostarcomms for further updates.



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This post was mentioned on Twitter by buzzmethod: RT @HK_London: Report into Eurostar crisis released today – check out #HK_crisisUK blog for assessment of the findings:



Grant Smith

Richard, thanks for taking the time to drop by and share the review report with us and our readers. The Q&A site is really helpful. Hope it’s well received.



Andrew Thomas, Communicate magazine

Couldn’t agree more. The communication from Eurostar was certainly a detriment during this crisis.

One of the recommendations from the review was that Eurostar “should also consider new forms of communication, such as Twitter and Facebook, to keep passengers updated”. However, Eurostar was using these ‘new forms of communication’ but the company’s facebook page and twitter account were managed by the marketing department rather than anyone with a corporate or crisis communication remit. The twitter feed they were using had been set up to sell city break holidays. The subsequent lack of communication on these channels reflected the inexperience in crisis communication handling from those using them.

The good news is that, 24 hours before the report was published, Eurostar launched a corporate twitter account. In fact they were able to put it to effective use today after the tragic rail accident in Belgium. I’m sure they were relieved they’d done so – how crass would it have been to announce rail delays due to so many deaths on a twitter feed normally encouraging weekend getaways to Brussels.

Companies like Eurostar and Toyota are not used to the speed and ferocity with which stories can break on social media, and traditional crisis communication strategies will need to be updated. I actually think that Eurostar have subsequently responded well, in commissioning the review and acting on some of the recommendations so quickly.



Grant Smith

Andrew, thanks for stopping by, appreciate you taking the time to comment. In particular, this bit: “how crass would it have been to announce rail delays due to so many deaths on a twitter feed normally encouraging weekend getaways to Brussels”. I think with all of the social media hyperbole about the dissemination of information, sometimes we all need to take a cold shower and remember we’re still talking about real people, as you’ve pointed out.

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