Long delays prompt rail firm review

A rail company today announced it will review its response to massive disruption to services after thousands of passengers were stranded for hours and a heavily pregnant woman joined a group who got off a train and walked along tracks.

South West Trains (SWT) said the problems last night on services into and out of London Waterloo were caused by deliberate damage to signalling system cable.



Scores of trains ground to a halt, some without power, throughout last night, with services only resuming late in the evening.



It is understood that Emma Firth, who is eight months pregnant, was threatened with arrest by one police officer after she joined a group of passengers who took matters into their own hands and got off a train outside Woking in Surrey.



Many passengers decided to jump off trains using emergency exits and walk down the track, leading to power being turned off.



Passengers vented their anger today on social network sites, saying that station staff were a "disgrace" and accusing SWT of leaving passengers stranded for hours on trains with no ventilation, food or water.



One man said he was threatened with arrest after "raising his voice" to a member of staff, while drivers were said to be stranded on trains, worsening the chaos.



One passenger tweeted: "SWT locks passengers on train for five hours with no food, light, air, water, threatens arrest if escape attempted."



Another said: "Major questions over incident management", while others said SWT should be forced to reconsider its approach to such incidents to avoid passengers being stranded.



A South West Trains spokesman said: "We are very sorry for the significant impact last night's signal problems had on a large number of our passengers. We would like to thank them for their patience during some extremely difficult circumstances.



"We appreciate that many passengers spent several hours on trains while Network Rail engineers worked hard to rectify the major signalling faults.



"The signalling problems are now reported to have been caused by deliberate damage to signalling system cable.



"We are extremely angry and frustrated that mindless and irresponsible vandalism meant that many of our passengers had a terrible journey last night.



"Our staff did their very best to help people get home through the night, including organising and paying for alternative transport, however there is no question the plans of many of our passengers were hugely disrupted.



"In addition, our station and on-train teams worked hard to keep passengers updated, but we fully understand the frustration of passengers whose trains were unable to move for a lengthy period.



"Our operations team have worked through the night to get as many trains as possible back into position to allow us to run as good a service as possible this morning. We are, however, running some shorter trains than normal and some services have had to be cancelled.



"As a matter of course, we will work with Network Rail to review the response to last night's disruption. We are committed to learning any lessons and taking any steps required to improve the flow of information to passengers."



It was the second time this week that signal problems caused massive disruption to SWT services.















Robin Gisby, Network Rail's managing director of network operations, said: "There was an attempted cable theft at a substation at Farnborough last night which resulted in a complete loss of the signalling in the Farnborough and Woking area.



"This resulted in a very difficult journey and a lot of frustration for thousands of passengers who travel on the line into and out of Waterloo, with a significant number of trains delayed or cancelled.



"Cable theft and other forms of vandalism are serious crimes with significant consequences. These criminals continue to deny passengers the service they rightly expect and, through the massive cost to the industry, deny everyone improvements to rail services.



"We are doing everything we can to protect the railway and will continue to work closely with British Transport Police and other rail partners to do everything in our power to deter thieves and bring those who attack our network to justice."



Network Rail said anyone with information about cable theft should contact British Transport Police or Crimestoppers where they can report the crime anonymously and could receive up to a £1,000 reward.



:: An investigation has been launched after passengers on a packed rush-hour train forced open doors after it stopped for hours, partly in a tunnel, and jumped onto the track, only for the train to start moving again, it was revealed earlier this week.



The incident happened between London St Pancras and Kentish Town stations when a First Capital Connect (FCC) service, with hundreds of commuters on board, stopped because of power problems.



The Brighton to Bedford service train, which had a capacity of 476, was fully loaded, with many passengers standing when it stopped at 6pm on May 26.



The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said that by the time another train was sent to help the failed train more than two hours later, some passengers had used the emergency release handles to open the train doors to improve ventilation because the air conditioning was not working.





















British Transport Police appealed for information about what it said was an attempted cable theft in the Farnborough area yesterday.



Investigators said the incident resulted in more than 9,000 minutes of delays and compounded existing problems on the network.



Superintendent Andrew Ball said: "At present it's unclear exactly how much damage was caused, but what we do know is that this incident compounded delays elsewhere and resulted in disruption to a large number of services.



"We've launched an investigation to determine the full circumstances and are appealing for anyone with information about the incident to contact us.



"Theft of metal and copper cable impacts on many industries and communities but those who steal, and in this case try to steal, simply do not care who their behaviour affects.



"As shown by this incident, the theft of railway cable can result in lengthy delays and cancellations to rail services, whilst elsewhere the theft of other items such as residential earthing cable or communications cable can have a serious impact on people's homes and businesses.



"The act of stealing, or attempting to steal, cable is extremely dangerous. What the thieves don't realise is that they are working on live cable, carrying high voltages, which can cause extensive burns. By attempting to steal it they are putting their lives at risk."



Mr Ball added: "BTP officers attended Woking rail station on Thursday following reports of overcrowding.



"Officers spoke to a group of passengers, who had left a train and walked back to Woking along the tracks, about the dangers of going on to the line without being directed to do so by rail staff or a police officer.



"We fully understand the concerns and frustrations of passengers, particularly the heavily pregnant woman, and we are sorry if anyone felt our officers were not sympathetic to their plight. Our clear priority is the safety of passengers and making sure they do not do anything that puts them or other persons at risk.



"Even when power may seem to be off, some parts of the tracks can remain electrified.



"Only recently, on Saturday 4 June, BTP officers helped a 22-year-old woman who received serious burns after forcing open the doors of a stationary train and walking on tracks in south Croydon before coming into contact with the live rail."















PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Biomass Sales Consultant

£20000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Java Developer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My Client are a successful software hous...

Senior Analyst - Financial Modelling

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This really is a fantastic chance to joi...

MS Dynamics NAV/Navision Developer

£45000 - £53000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: **MS DYNAMICS N...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game