Broken rail adds to train chaos

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The Independent Online

Britain's rail users faced continued misery today as a result of the Hatfield crash and bad weather.

Britain's rail users faced continued misery today as a result of the Hatfield crash and bad weather.

Services across the country were hit by on-going repairs and flooding.

Journeys through Hatfield came to a halt after a driver spotted a broken rail on a line of track diverting trains from the accident zone at 7am.

So bad were conditions on the London to Scotland east coast route that the line's operators were advising passengers not to travel unless their journeys were absolutely necessary.

Worst hit services were those in north east England, the Midlands and the south west.

Severe flooding in North Yorkshire meant that there was no service between York and Newcastle on the east coast main line.

The line's operators Great North Eastern Railway had to put up 500 passengers in hotels in York on Thursday night after their replacement bus was unable to get through to Newcastle because of flood waters.

The company today apologised for the "longer journeys, the busier trains and the significantly reduced service" and said it was grateful for passengers' "continuing patience and understanding".

Flooding in the Midlands and the west of England, together with post-Hatfield Railtrack speed restrictions, meant that some train companies were only able to offer about half the normal number of weekend trains.

Some companies warned passengers that journeys could take up to 75 minutes longer than normal on some routes.

Railtrack said the weekend would see "another huge programme of re-railing and inspection".

It added that the amount of work needed to repair flood damage would not be clear until the waters subsided.

Rail passengers were left to reflect that one of the biggest track maintenance programmes ever undertaken was being implemented during some of the worst floods for half a century.

Even before the broken rail incident, GNER was "strongly advising" passengers not to use its London-Scotland service today or over the weekend unless journeys were absolutely necessary.

"Direct London to Scotland services are not running north of York due to lineside flooding at Kelton and because Railtrack are relaying more than seven miles of track between Darlington and Durham," said a spokesman.

He added that trains were running between London and York and between Newcastle and Edinburgh, but not between York and Newcastle.

GNER said that it hoped to open the line through Hatfield on November 13 but warned that passengers in that area would still face speed restrictions.

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