Train station blackout causes chaos

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The Independent Online

One of Britain's busiest train stations was plunged into chaos yesterday after a power surge caused the cancellation of dozens of services and trapped people on trains. Services stopped at Birmingham's New Street Station, used by 100,000 people a day just before 2pm.

Limited services began running again after 4pm and thousands of commuters were facing lengthy delays through the night. Last night, the National Grid and Network Rail were at loggerheads over who was to blame.

A Network Rail spokeswoman said sections of Birmingham were blacked out and one department store had to be evacuated after the lights went out.

But a National Grid spokes-man, Ross Hayman, said the local power company Aquila Network had reported a minor disruption caused by a power surge. He said the fault appeared to be at the station.

"We had a voltage fluctuation on our system at 1:30pm," Mr Hayman said. "There was a disturbance just for a fraction of a second , probably a circuit trip. The problem is apparently at New Street Station." But a Network Rail spokesman said: "There was a voltage fluctuation, following which signalling fuses went out and signals turned to red, knocking out trains for an hour and a half."

A Network Rail spokeswoman said while there were massive delays last night, services would be normal today.

All routes to and from the station which includes services run by Central Trains, Virgin Trains, Wales and Borders and Silverlink Trains were affected.