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Nottingham station fire treated as arson after major blaze causes travel chaos

Travel chaos as industrial action and blaze derail estimated million journeys

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 12 January 2018 12:05 GMT
Nottingham railway station evacuated due to fire

A major fire at Nottingham train station that caused rail chaos is being treated as arson, police said.

Sixty firefighters tackled the blaze, which started in a block of toilets at the station at around 6.30am.

British Transport Police, which is conducting a joint investigation with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue, said they believed the fire had been started deliberately.

Rail passengers across Britain faced a day of chaos on Friday with the Nottingham fire adding to disruption from industrial action. The Independent estimates one million journeys could be affected.

Travellers on trains timetabled to run to, from or through Nottingham were warned the station was unlikely to reopen.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the station during the morning rush hour in what the new transport minister, Jo Johnson, said was "a devastating incident that has done substantial damage".

East Midlands Trains to and from London St Pancras are terminating at East Midlands Parkway. Cross Country Trains from Cardiff and Birmingham are starting and ending at Derby. Passengers have been told: “If you have a ticket dated for travel today and decide not to travel you may use your ticket to travel tomorrow.”

Passengers who must travel today are able to use services of other operators by any reasonable route. The line via Derby to Sheffield is unaffected by the fire. A coach operator, Sn-Ap, is offering free travel between Nottingham and London for rail passengers who book online and enter “railfire” as the coupon code.

A transport consultant, Mike Wooldridge, tweeted: “Sad to read about the Nottingham station fire – the restoration of the original frontage was really well done and only completed relatively recently.”

In the West Midlands, dozens of trains on the main line between London Euston and BIrmingham were cancelled after an incident west of Coventry.

Passengers on Northern, Merseyrail and South Western Railway are being affected by industrial action by members of the RMT union. It is the third strike this week about the principle of driver-only operation and the future role of guards.

Northern said it aimed to run three out of five services between 7am and 7pm. Merseyrail has similar plans, though several lines are closed completely.

On Southwestern Railway, no trains are running west of Poole in Dorset on the Weymouth line. The operator planned to run about 70 per cent of the normal service.

RMT members on Greater Anglia are also striking, but the train operator says it plans “a full, normal service”.

The RMT’s general secretary, Mick Cash, said: “RMT members remain rock solid in each of the separate disputes across the country over rail safety this morning, on the final day of this phase of action, as we continue to fight to put public safety, security and access before the profits of the train operating companies.”

The Office of Rail and Road says driver-only operation is safe so long as the correct procedures and staff are in place. The Government insists that guards will be freed up to have an expanded role in customer care.

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