Page last updated at 15:19 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Thousands suffer rail disruption

Rail travellers at London Euston
Thousands of commuters and long-distance travellers suffered delays

Rail passengers have suffered a sixth successive day of disruption on a major line after a power cable collapse halted all services to London Euston.

Every train in and out of the station was suspended after cables struck a train on Tuesday.

All routes remain affected, but limited services have now resumed.

It was the fourth incident in a week to disrupt the West Coast Main Line, which has led to 70% of all Virgin services running late since new year.

Lines have now reopened, but both Virgin and London Midland are currently running reduced services.

I heard a bang above my head and the carriage shook - there was a bright flash and I just screamed
Samantha Broome, rail traveller

A spokesman for Virgin Trains said the company hoped to run at least four services an hour on Wednesday afternoon from Euston to Manchester, Liverpool, the West Midlands and Glasgow.

A Network Rail spokesman said a string of problems on the West Coast Main Line in recent days were being investigated.

He said they appeared to have been unrelated and were due to "unfortunate coincidences".

The latest affected stretch of line was between North Wembley and Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, following the incident at Kenton on Tuesday evening.

Arthur Leathley, director of communications for Virgin Trains, said: "Clearly we'd like this to be resolved, it's hugely frustrating for our customers and indeed for ourselves, we want a full service running as quickly as possible.

"We recognise that things do happen, it's a very busy railway, but to have a number of high profile, highly disruptive incidents such as this in the last few days does suggest there is something wider going on."

MAP OF AFFECTED ROUTES
Stranded train in London

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The train firm told BBC transport correspondent Tom Symonds that problems on the west coast line meant 70% of trains had been running late since the start of the new year.

Samantha Broome, 22, of Far Forest, Worcestershire, was on the 2023 GMT train from Euston hit by the cables.

She said: "I heard a bang above my head and the carriage shook. There was a bright flash and I just screamed.

"We sat on the train for over two-and-a-half hours, guards were running up and down trying to work out what had happened. We were given survival blankets because it was cold."

Toby Corballis, 43, from Highgate, north London, travelled to Manchester on business earlier. He was forced to take a service from St Pancras to Sheffield and change there.

The software company chief executive criticised Virgin for not providing enough information at Euston.

Allan Gardner, of Sandwell, West Midlands, travels to and from Euston every weekday and said the recent delays had been "pretty bad". He cancelled his journey earlier.

The 58-year-old business consultant, who pays 310 a week for season tickets, said: "I'm trying to keep myself in a job. I've lost a day's fees."

A stranded Virgin train on the West Coast Main Line north of London

The latest power failure followed problems on Tuesday at Rugby, Warwickshire, and Bletchley, Buckinghamshire.

Before that travellers were disrupted on Sunday and Monday as engineers worked at Watford Junction to repair damaged power lines.

And on Friday and Saturday the line was closed after a fatal plane crash near the tracks in Staffordshire.

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker said: "Natural events do occur, but Network Rail needs to build more resilience into the network."

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SEE ALSO
Three dead in railway plane crash
03 Jan 09 |  Staffordshire

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Telegraph West Coast line resumes services - 19 hrs ago
Glasgow Evening Times Commuters face new misery in train delays - 21 hrs ago
Glasgow Herald New problems hit Scotland-England West Coast Main Line - 23 hrs ago
Grimsby Telegraph More misery for train passengers - 38 hrs ago
Sky News Will You Be Hit By Travel Chaos? - 42 hrs ago



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