Holiday marred by bad weather and travel delays

The British bank holiday is not known for running smoothly, but a combination of travel chaos and indifferent weather has ensured that, for many, this one has been even more disappointing than most.

Train passengers endured a second day of misery on Sunday, after disruptions to services hit thousands of journeys, while drivers up and down the country were caught in the customary holiday tailbacks on motorways and A-roads. Across the country, cloud cover and cool temperatures made for a gloomy weekend.

Travellers going to and from London experienced lengthy delays after trains on the East Coast main line between King's Cross and Aberdeen were held up by two separate incidents of damage to overhead power wires: one on Saturday, and another on Sunday. Yesterday's disruptions on the East Coast line were blamed on damaged wires at Copmanthorpe, south of York. On Saturday, 200 metres of power lines were damaged near Grantham in Lincolnshire, causing delays on 70 scheduled services. Servcies were cancelled in both directions between Grantham and Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

With Manchester United playing at Wembley on Saturday evening, there could hardly have been a worse day for delays to one of the main lines connecting the north to the capital. Problems began at 10.20am, when a train was stopped approaching Grantham, and delays to services of up to two hours continued through much of the day.

Asked about the possible cause of the damage, a Network Rail spokesman said it could be a technical problem with the lines, vandalism or even a carrier bag becoming entangled in the overhead wires. A spokeswoman for the service operator East Coast said that the damage discovered on Sunday was less extensive than on Saturday and they were advising people to travel as normal. However, there were reports of delays of an hour from travellers in York. East Coast said yesterday that it expected services to be back to normal by Sunday evening, adding that diesel trains were still carrying passengers through the affected area.

On the roads, drivers in Somerset were caught in 16-mile queues on Saturday after a crash near Bridgwater. Meanwhile, a crash on the A466 near Bassetts Pole in the west Midlands saw three people hospitalised and caused tailbacks on nearby holiday routes.

Not unlike the trains, summery weather also failed to arrive on time. Much of the UK was under cloud throughout Saturday and Sunday, while temperatures remained obstinately chilly in most parts. Central and southern Scotland experienced the best of the weekend's sunny spells.

Bank holiday Monday is not expected to be any better. The north will be chilled by winds, while the south could well face a drenching, according to the Met Office.

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