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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 16:51 GMT
Power cut misery for thousands
Tens of thousands of homes are still without electricity following the storms that claimed seven lives in England and Wales during the weekend.
There is also continuing disruption for rail passengers.
Channel Tunnel services are suspended, and there is major disruption on many routes within the UK.
Part of the M20 has been closed by police to cope with a backlog of lorries caused by the tunnel closure.
In East Anglia, 44,000 of the 200,000 24Seven customers cut off were still without power early on Tuesday evening.
More than 17,000 of 215,000 homes cut off in the East Midlands were still without electricity - and were warned they may not be reconnected until Thursday.
About 18,000 homes in north Wales were also suffering power cuts.
Western Power Distribution blamed a series of power surges and cuts in the Bristol area on salt brought in by high winds during the weekend storms.
The London Electricity Group has flown in up to 100 engineers from its parent company, Electricité de France, to help repair power lines.
French engineers are also helping out in Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex and Surrey, where energy company Seeboard said about 2,000 homes were without electricity.
It warned that it could take until Wednesday morning to restore power to all the affected areas.
The gas and electricity watchdog, Energywatch, has criticised some power companies for their treatment of customers who have been cut off.
It said many people trying to report a power cut had been unable to get through, or had reached only an answer machine which could take no more messages.
While many train services have been restored, travellers in some areas have been dealing with a third day of problems.
Cancellations were still being caused by fallen overhead power lines and damaged signalling on Tuesday evening.
There were still major disruptions to most routes in East Anglia, the East Coast Mainline, Thameslink services in the south-east, connections between the South West and London, and Central Trains services in the West Midlands.
Eurostar services were still not running on Tuesday evening after about 6,000 passengers were stranded on Monday night.
Services were suspended at 1730 GMT after salt blown from stormy seas short-circuited overhead power lines.
It halted about six trains near the Calais entrance to the Channel Tunnel.
The company, which was sending stranded passengers home by plane or ferry, could not say when services would resume.
Among the seven people killed in the storms were 12-year-old Christopher Vince, who was crushed by a tree near Norwich.
A three-year-old boy who died after a tree fell on his pushchair in Felixstowe, Suffolk, was named on Tuesday as Benjamin Davey.
An angler who died after being swept out to sea south of Aberdeen was named as Dennis Strachan, 55, from Kirkcaldy, while a driver who died near Brecon when a branch hit the roof of his car was named as 66-year-old Reginald Pugh, from Brecon.
What are your experiences of the storm? Have you been affected by the travel chaos?
It is a sad fact that we are so dependent upon technology that a little wind and rain can cripple us. Thirty five years ago, we sent a man to the moon. Currently we would be lucky to send him from Cardiff to London by train, and have him arrive there within one hour of the advertised time.
I am outraged that a set of warden controlled Bungalows in the Panshanger area of Welwyn Garden City were left without electricity for over thirty six hours with no help from anybody. These Bungalows are all OAP's and most of them are disabled, yet not one person checked on any of them to see if they were okay. These people were just left. Most of them had not had a hot drink or food for any of this period. Even their emergency pull cord system wasn't working.
I spent 11 hours yesterday trying to get from Manchester to Salisbury by train. The highlight was one and a half hours locked inside an overcrowded train at Birmingham with no information whatsoever. Passengers had to resort to holding up "HELP" messages at the windows to try and attract the attention of Virgin Trains staff who generally walked off and ignored them as they obviously didn't have a clue what was going on.
We were very fortunate since we were without power for only 11 hours. However isn't it time in the year 2002 that power cables were put underground to all towns and villages. Society is now so dependent on electricity that it is becoming dangerous to subject people to power cuts. Let's make a start now!
Peter Smithers, UK
I work in Paris and was on a business trip to London this weekend. To my despair Eurostar was not running yesterday evening so I found myself spending the night stranded in Waterloo and arrived in the Paris office very late and missed a couple of important meetings. Surely transport companies should be prepared and come up with solutions for this kind of disruption.
Everyone accepts that exceptional weather conditions will mean some disruption and delay. What I cannot understand is why the rail companies are always so inept in keeping the information flow going. Yesterday, at Leamington Spa, the 08.12 to Newcastle was delayed by 95 minutes. In the 2 hours that I sat at the station there was one announcement concerning that delay. People will understand the problems much better if they are kept informed.
Robin Smith, Britain
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