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Paddington station closure causes Tuesday morning rush-hour chaos

24 hours on, the ‘substantial dewirement’ that stopped all trains on Monday is still not fixed

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 20 September 2022 08:00 BST
Long wait: the queue for trains to Reading from London Waterloo at the Monday evening rush-hour
Long wait: the queue for trains to Reading from London Waterloo at the Monday evening rush-hour (Simon Calder)

London Paddington, one of Britain’s 10 busiest rail stations, has remained almost completely closed for Tuesday morning rush hour.

The station, which is the terminus for trains to the West of England and South Wales, was out of action for most of Monday because of overhead wire damage – wrecking the travel plans for tens of thousands of people hoping to be in the capital for the Queen’s state funeral.

GWR, which runs most of the trains in and out of the station, says no services will run “until at least 9.30am”. Rumours at the station suggest that problems could continue until noon, with knock-on delays for the rest of the day.

Passengers are being told to travel only if necessary.

As a steady flow of passengers emerging from the Underground and from taxis at Paddington discover when they read the notices, the cause is a “substantial dewirement” 10 miles west at Hayes & Harlington.

The incident happened early on Monday morning, when a series of six passenger trains became entangled with up to two miles of fallen overhead wires.

The passengers were taken safely off the trains, but since then the four tracks that connect the capital with much of the west of the country have been closed – as well as the line serving Heathrow airport.

Network Rail, which owns the infrastructure, has apologised “for the significant disruption caused on this day of national mourning”.

One train is running every half-hour between London Paddington and Ealing Broadway, five miles west. The vast majority of passengers, hoping to travel further west, are being told to change at Reading using commuter services to and from London Waterloo. The alternative route is much slower and uses commuter trains that stop frequently.

Passengers to and from Oxford can also use Chiltern trains serving London Marylebone. Airline passengers are being advised to take the Tube – which is a journey of at least an hour from Paddington, compared with just 15 minutes on the express train.

For anyone who reaches Heathrow, operations are improving. There were 200 cancellations on Monday to reduce noise over the capital for the Queen’s funeral, and delays for many flights because of restrictions over Windsor.

As a result of the disruption, flights at Heathrow were operating significantly later than they normally do. The final British Airways departure, to Glasgow, took off just before midnight around two hours late.

The last to touch down was a BA flight from Tirana, which arrived shortly after 12.30am.

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