Thousands of rail passengers were stranded last night on trains and at stations after a tractor crashed on to the West Coast main line from London to Scotland.
At least 14 trains, carrying up to 600 passengers each, were stalled between stations as workers waited for heavy lifting gear to clear the line. No one was hurt in the accident, which happened at Bourne End, Hertfordshire at 6.30pm yesterday.
Railtrack said the accident had affected signalling equipment and would delay passengers today. The line serves stations from Euston to the West Midlands, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.
Intercity West Coast Ltd, the company which operates services on the line, said debris had covered all tracks which pass the site of the crash. As many as eight trains an hour run through this spot on a Friday evening.
At midnight, British Transport Police said stations were in a state of "utter chaos".
It was unlikely the track would be cleared until this morning.