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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 06:23 GMT 07:23 UK
Rail delays hit main line
Passengers disembark from train
Some passengers arrived in the middle of the night
Furious passengers travelling between London and Scotland have criticised rail companies after suffering hours of delays on Wednesday evening.

All East Coast main line services were disrupted after overhead power cables came down on the tracks near Peterborough.

One passenger who had meant to catch a 1930BST service to Leeds found herself still waiting in Doncaster station for a replacement coach at 0245BST on Thursday.

She said: "It's just outrageous. People on the train were getting very annoyed."

Series of mishaps

The power lines damaged and halted a GNER train from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh when the lines came down at about 1600BST on Wednesday.

Passengers on board were left stranded for more than four hours before a relief train arrived to take them north.

But it broke down in Doncaster, after running out of water.

And the original cable fault then caused serious disruption to all other services.

A train which left Kings Cross at 2000BST bound for Newcastle, finally arrived at 0345BST on Thursday - more than four hours late.

Those travelling to Leeds had to change at Doncaster for a replacement coach service at 0230BST.

GNER has apologised for the problems, and promised refunds to passengers caught up in the chaos.

It said trains were running on time on Thursday.

Franchise extension

The problems happened less than an hour after the Transport Secretary, Stephen Byers, announced a two year extension to the company's franchise to operate the route - in return for new trains, and improved services.

Mr Byers rejected recommendations from the Strategic Rail Authority to offer a 20 year franchise.

GNER chief executive Christopher Garnett said that he was pleased to have won the franchise instead of Virgin, but he was sorry that the extension was so short.

The director general of the Association of Train Operating Companies, George Muir, said, "this looks like a return to stop-go investment decisions which have caused so much damage".

The BBC's Tom Symonds
"Passengers were told the rescue train had broken down"
John Roberts
was on a train bound for Edinburgh which was severely delayed
See also:

18 Jul 01 | Scotland
Rethink on east coast rail franchise
13 Mar 01 | Scotland
Scotland in line for rail boost
06 Mar 00 | Business
Virgin's 200mph East Coast vision
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