Rail passengers hit by technical problems

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The Independent Online

Passengers had to endure further travel misery on a key London to Scotland rail route today.

Virgin Trains had to cancel one service in three between London and Birmingham and between London and Manchester on the West Coast Main Line following yesterday's overhead cable problem at Watford in Hertfordshire.

Meanwhile in Scotland, Virgin was one of a number of companies affected by signalling problems in the Rutherglen area.

This caused some services run by Virgin and the CrossCountry train company to end at Motherwell rather than at Glasgow Central, while ScotRail had to run a replacement bus service between Whifflet and Cambuslang.

In another disruption, CrossCountry and First Great Western services were delayed by signalling difficulties between Cholsey and Didcot Parkway in Oxfordshire and National Express East Anglia trains were unable to call at Colchester Town station in Essex due to another signalling problem.

The Watford incident halted services in and out of London's Euston station yesterday.

Repairs were completed by Network Rail (NR) by 4am so the West Coast line could reopen.

The problems with the power lines came two days after the busy West Coast line was closed when a plane crashed into it in Little Haywood, near Stafford, at noon on Friday.

The crash claimed the lives of three people - pilot Alan Matthews and married passengers Nick and Emma O'Brien - and left thousands of rail passengers stranded as services were brought to a halt.

Virgin Trains spokesman Jim Rowe said today: "Following the plane crash and the problems at Watford, we have had to reduce the service.

"We are looking to run a fuller service from tomorrow, although we may be able to restore it all by later today."

This is the second new year running that passengers have had to contend with travel chaos on the West Coast line.

Last year extensive engineering work on the line at Rugby overran, as did work at two other sites, leading the Office of Rail Regulation to fine NR a record £14 million.