Commuters warned to stay away from London Waterloo due to ‘major signalling problem’

Train cancellations will hit Britain’s busiest station for the rest of the day

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 13 April 2023 08:42 BST
London Waterloo station: Passengers told 'do not travel' after massive signal failure

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Rail passengers have been warned to avoid Britain’s busiest railway station, London Waterloo, due to a massive signal failure.

South Western Railway told commuters on Thursday morning: “A major signalling problem that developed overnight at London Waterloo means that a significantly reduced service will operate to and from Waterloo this morning.

“We’re advising customers not to attempt travel to or from London Waterloo this morning as a result.

“We’re sorry for the disruption this morning. Engineers are working to restore signalling however we expect disruption to last for most of the day.”

At the station, the message has changed to: ”Disruption is expected until the end of the day.”

Many trains from across the network, covering Surrey, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset, have been cancelled.

(File photos) Passengers are being warned to stay away from Waterloo
(File photos) Passengers are being warned to stay away from Waterloo (PA Wire)

Trains that are running, using the remaining 10 platforms, are extremely delayed. A train from Teddington due in at 6.20am arrived almost an hour late.

The Independent understands that the main power supply to the signalling system for the lines to and from platforms 1 to 14 inclusive failed at 3am.

A team from Network Rail has been at the site since 3.40am but has not been able so far to identify the source of the problem and begin repairs.

Some trains are being terminated at Wimbledon, where passengers are told to switch to Underground or Thameslink trains to complete their journeys. Others are being turned around at Clapham Junction, where there are alternative trains to London Victoria.

The lines to Reading and Windsor & Eton Riverside are unaffected, but will be much busier than usual as commuters from Clapham Junction crowd onto trains.

A limited service of main line and suburban trains will run to and from other platforms.

The failure comes two days after the main line through Winchester and Basingstoke to Waterloo opened after Easter engineering work.

Ticket acceptance is in place that allows South Western Railway passengers to use Southern, CrossCountry and GWR trains to make journeys by reasonable routes, with tickets also valid on London Underground trains where appropriate.

Travellers will be able to claim full refunds if they are unable to travel, and season ticket holders will get money back for the day.

With rail revenue way below pre-Covid levels, and passenger confidence undermined by dozens of strikes since last summer, the closure of the biggest London terminus will cause further damage to the finances and image of the railway.

The main line from Oxford via Didcot to London is closed until June because of a damaged viaduct over the River Thames.

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