Thousands hit and train company apologises as Kings Cross problems linger throughout today

 

Thousands of train passengers endured travel misery on a key London to Scotland route today with the severe disruption likely to last all day.

Caused by an overhead wire collapse on the East Coast in Cambridgeshire, the problem led to some passengers spending Tuesday night on a train at London's King's Cross station.

East Coast services were severely disrupted, with no trains able to run between Peterborough and London during the morning.

Services run by First Capital Connect, Grand Central and First Hull Trains were also affected

As Network Rail (NR) and East Coast explained what had happened, Bob Crow, leader of the RMT transport union, said he had been warning about a shortage of overhead line crew and capacity for "years".

With the last East Coast train from King's Cross cancelled last night, the station remained open all night as passengers trying to get home refused to leave the train.

They included football fans trying to get home from Arsenal's Champions League match with Bayern Munich.

The London Evening Standard said a decision had been made to let the passengers stay on the train.

The trouble today followed severe disruption last week caused by an overhead line problem at Radlett in Hertfordshire.

At the same time as passengers were being delayed, the Office of Rail Regulation was issuing a damning report on NR's recent performance, accusing the company of "areas of poor management of the railways" and instances of "basic operational planning mistakes".

 
A spokesman for NR said: "At around 10pm yesterday a train driver reported problems with the overhead power lines near St Neots in Cambridgeshire, on the East Coast Main Line.

"Upon investigation damage has been caused to around one kilometre of overhead wires. Our engineers have worked through the night to carry out repairs and continue to work on the affected section of railway, but the scale of the problem means no trains will be able to run through this section until midday at least, when a diesel-only service will be able to operate."

The spokesman went on: "We apologise to passengers for the significant disruption this is causing to services. We're doing everything we can to repair the damage and get people moving as quickly as we possibly can.

"Train operators are providing buses where necessary and have lifted ticketing restrictions to enable passengers to travel via alternative routes.

"The cause of a dewirement on the Midland Main Line at Radlett last Wednesday was an infrastructure failure. All maintenance on this piece of infrastructure was up to date and maintenance staff numbers were not a factor."

The East Coast train company said: "East Coast services are being disrupted this morning following damage to the overhead power lines at St Neots last night.

"Network Rail have teams working to repair damage. They expect that a limited service of diesel trains may resume from 12 noon today."

The statement went on: "East Coast services are currently starting from, and terminating at, Peterborough. Our advice to passengers travelling to or from stations south of Peterborough, including London King's Cross, is to defer journeys until tomorrow, when tickets dated for travel today will be accepted.

"In addition, East Coast tickets are being accepted via alternative routes to London, including on East Midlands Trains' services via Sheffield, and on Virgin West Coast services.

"All ticket restrictions on East Coast trains have been lifted for the remainder of today. We apologise to all passengers affected by this disruption."

Mr Crow said: "We have been raising serious concerns about the shortage of overhead line (OHL) crew and capacity on Britain's railways for a number of years now.

"We repeated those points only last week when the lines came down at Radlett and now just days later we have another massive OHL failure on our hands. We cannot carry on like this."

He went on: "The chaos on services hitting hundreds of thousands due to cancellations out of central London as a result of the lines down overnight reinforces RMT's demand for a full review of OHL maintenance and emergency staffing numbers and capacity to cope with this growing infrastructure issue and a massive backlog of essential works."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links