The Rugby World Cup was hit by travel chaos for the second day in a row yesterday, as thousands of fans tried to travel from London to Cardiff for the Ireland-Canada game.
London’s Paddington station was described as a “sea of green” as Irish fans queued up to get on a train.
The problems followed chaos on Friday as fans leaving Twickenham after the tournament’s opening game between England and Fiji found the station had been closed after a man fell on to the tracks and was injured by a train.
First Great Western apologised for the congestion at Paddington, saying a late rush of passengers travelling to the Welsh capital had taken it by surprise.
One Ireland fan, Deirdre Flynn, tweeted: “Heh @IrishRugby could you stall the Canadians for half an hour? Hundreds of your fans are stranded in Paddington waiting for trains.” Another, Caoimhe O’Neill, a singing teacher from Dublin, wrote: “Disgraceful lack of planning ... lots of people going to miss kick off!”
First Great Western said it had originally put on extra services, totalling some 8,000 extra seats, but added at least another 1,500 additional seats.
“We’re sorry for anyone caught up on busy services ahead of the match at the Millennium Stadium [in Cardiff],” the firm said. “The number of people wishing to travel is significantly higher than we would normally expect for this type of event. We will be reviewing arrangements for future events during the Rugby World Cup, but there will be a limit to what we can provide without impacting other customers.”
At Twickenham, Rugby World Cup organisers said its travel contingency plan – with shuttle buses taking people to central London and other nearby stations – had worked as well as could have been expected.
One fan, Penny Blake, 29, said she and her husband David did not get home to Brentwood in Essex until 2.55am – and only after spending £160 on a taxi. “I’ve never seen anything like it, it was absolute chaos,” she said. “It’s a shame because it was a brilliant opening ceremony and an amazing atmosphere.”
A spokeswoman for the tournament said: “I think ‘travel chaos’ is too strong. We’ve not heard of people who haven’t got to Cardiff ... It just was very, very busy at Paddington. And on [Friday], things were working well until the unfortunate incident at Twickenham station, which was out of our control.”Reuse content