A train travels through snow at High Wycombe, west of London
A train travels through snow at High Wycombe, west of London

UK rail delays latest: Travel disruption intensifies just in time for Christmas?

Wintry weather has caused countless problems across the UK

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 12 December 2017 00:21

Travellers across Britain and the rest of Europe faced widespread delays and disruption due to a range of issues including adverse weather.

Europe’s busiest railway station, London Waterloo, was partly closed for much of the evening rush hour because of a lineside fire outside the station. It damaged the signalling system, leading to track circuit failures on three of the main lines.

At one stage during the rush hour, nine of the 21 platforms were out of use, and congestion increased to the point that many of the trains that were running began or ended at Clapham Junction.

Poor weather disrupted rail services in Kent and Sussex, with buses replacing trains between Haywards Heath and Lewes, and between Ashford and Rye.

In the Welsh borders, the line between Abergavenny and Hereford remained closed all day.

Virgin Trains passengers experienced delays on the line from Glasgow, Preston, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham to London for a range of reasons from adverse weather to points failures.

At Birmingham airport, the effects of the closure of the runway on Sunday morning continued through Monday, with one TUI flight from Tenerife running 20 hours late.

In the south of France, Nice-Cote d’Azur airport was close almost all day, affecting many flights on easyJet and Air France.

Disruption at Amsterdam because of bad weather was so extreme that KLM is offering any passenger due to travel up to Wednesday 13 December to rebook up to 20 December. The Dutch airline cancelled much of its European programme for Monday, including many flights to and from the UK.

Extra demand from airline passengers whose flights had been cancelled added pressure to Eurostar, the cross-Channel rail operator from London St Pancras to Brussels and Paris. It told passengers: “Our trains are at capacity, and as a result St Pancras is very busy today. Please do not come to to the station unless you have a valid ticket for travel today.”

As transport systems become busier in the build-up to Christmas, strikes threaten to jeopardise travel plans on Friday 15 December — one of the busiest days of the year.

In Italy, airport and airline staff will be striking for between four and 24 hours. Foreign airlines have worked around previous similar episodes of industrial action by shifting flight times.

On Virgin Trains, a strike by train managers, catering workers and station staff has been called by the RMT union for Friday, with future days to follow.

CrossCountry Trains staff belonging the RMT plan to strike on 23, 24, 27 and 31 December in a dispute about rostering. The union’s general secretary, Mick Cash, accused the train operator of “dishing out cash bungs to a dangerous scab army of under-cooked management recruits to try and break the action”.

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