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More misery for rail travellers

Passengers on a key London to Scotland rail route suffered yet more travel misery today when three separate incidents led to delays and cancellations.

Services on the West Coast Main Line were thrown into chaos by two overhead wire problems - one north of Rugby in the West Midlands, the other at Bletchley in Buckinghamshire.

To add to passengers' difficulties - on a line where a £9bn upgrade has just been completed - there was a broken rail between Coventry and Birmingham.

Virgin Trains had to cancel some services and divert others and the company was unable to to call at stations between Rugby and Stafford.

The London Midland train company was only able to run services between Northampton and London and a replacement bus service had to operate between Rugby and Nuneaton. ScotRail sleeper services arrived up to an hour late.

Today's troubles were the latest in a series of problems to hit the West Coast line in recent days.

Last week the service had to be suspended after a light plane crashed close to the line near Stafford in an incident in which three people were killed.

Then, on Sunday and Monday, services were badly affected by an overhead cable problem at Watford in Hertfordshire.

"We share our customers' frustrations at the problems they have had," said a Virgin Trains' spokesman.

There was also disruption on other lines in the morning rush-hour today.

A signalling problem between Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa led to delays to First Great Western and South West Trains' services, while Southeastern passengers were hit by signalling difficulties at Blackfriars station in London.

In north east England, a signalling problem at South Bank near Middlesbrough affected services run by the Northern Rail train company.