Upgraded West Coast Main Line hit by delays

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The Independent Online

Passengers promised new and improved train services with the introduction of a fresh timetable endured a series of delays today.

Embarrassingly for rail infrastructure company Network Rail (NR), one of the problems was on the London to Scotland West Coast Main Line where a £9 billion upgrade has just been completed.

And on the other main London to Scotland route - the East Coast Main Line - passengers were stranded for up to six hours overnight after power cables came down.

Signals problems, late-running weekend engineering work and train breakdowns also contributed to passengers' problems today.

These were some of the difficulties travellers endured:

* EAST COAST - One train reached London at 3.05am today - six hours late - after overhead wires were damaged at Claypole near Newark in Nottinghamshire.

* WEST COAST - Trains were cancelled and others delayed after a track-circuit problem at Bletchley which hit services between London and Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire.

* MIDLANDS - Overrunning engineering work between Leamington Spa in Warwickshire and Banbury in Oxfordshire affected services from the Midlands into London's Marylebone station.

* MANCHESTER - A broken-down train in the Manchester area affected rush-hour services on Northern Rail and First Transpennine Express.

* MERSEYSIDE - A broken down train at Huyton near Liverpool caused delays to Northern Rail services.

* DERBYSHIRE - A signalling problem at Langley Mill in Derbyshire led to delays on services in the Midlands run by East Midlands Trains and by the Northern Rail company. Among the affected areas were Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool.

This weekend NR had trumpeted the arrival of the new timetable and the completion of the West Coast work, with the company's chief executive Iain Coucher saying it was probably the biggest change to the national rail timetable since the industry moved from the age of steam to that of diesel and electric power.

He added that passengers on the West Coast line would enjoy much faster, more frequent services with 60,000 extra seats per day available on more than 1,000 extra weekly services.

Today an NR spokesman said: "We have had a few glitches here and there but overall the performance today has been OK.

"We have run (by around mid-morning) about 86 per of trains on time and hope to improve this figure as the day goes on."

Rail users on some of the busiest commuter routes in the country also suffered delays because of disruption to services today.

South West Trains services on the Portsmouth to London Waterloo line were hit because of a fault on a train, while some Southern services into London Victoria were also running late.