IRA bombs close railway stations: Commuters suffer rush-hour disruption

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The Independent Online
THE IRA bombed the east coast main rail line yesterday and forced the closure of two London railway stations for much of the afternoon rush hour. Further disruption is expected today.

The explosion, on an embankment, happened a few hundred metres north of Stevenage station in Hertfordshire and followed a coded warning. The track was damaged and services were halted on the route from King's Cross to Edinburgh. Disruption to commuter services into King's Cross was expected to continue today, especially on routes from Cambridge and Peterborough.

Army bomb disposal officers were also called in to deal with a package discovered near by after police continued to search the area.

In a statement, the IRA told a Dublin radio station that it had planted three explosive devices on the tracks near Stevenage station. One device was placed north of the station and two on tracks south of it, the statement said.

A second telephone message warned of devices on the lines at Clapham Junction, south London. The station was closed for three hours to allow a search to be made. British Rail also closed Stevenage and King's Cross stations, hitting services to the North and East Anglia, and was last night running shuttle buses in an effort to plug gaps in the services.

InterCity services were re- routed from Euston and St Pancras stations for a time and commuters suffered considerable delays as trains were diverted around the area of the blast.

Recognised coded warnings were received by British Rail shortly after 2pm and services between Moorgate in London and Stevenage were immediately suspended as police combed the line and surrounding areas. But the explosion happened 90 minutes after the alert on an embankment north of the station.

No one was hurt and no trains were in the vicinity, although the track was damaged and Railtrack, its operators, said it was unlikely that trains would be able run for much of the evening. Services are expected to be almost back to normal today.