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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 10:26 GMT
Virgin Trains chaos 'over by Christmas'
Rails at Dawlish
Virgin services are all at sea at Dawlish
Virgin Trains says it hopes to have its troubled Voyager services running properly by Christmas.

Virgin's new flag-ship fleet of Voyager trains is facing disruption around the country caused by slippery rails and landslips, and in Devon by sea spray.

The 4m trains were introduced in the South West in August, replacing 35-year-old locomotives and 25-year-old coaches.

But they are having problems during high tides along the sea-wall stretch of the line at Dawlish, between Plymouth and Exeter.

Virgin Voyager train
The 4m trains have been a "PR calamity"
Salt water has affected electrical equipment on the roof of new trains, making the on-board computers shut down the locos.

Earlier this year Virgin stopped Voyagers running along the stretch during high tides.

Other train services have been able to proceed along the affected stretch.


It's a great disappointment for the business community

Tim Jones, Devon and Cornwall Business Council

Tim Jones from the Devon and Cornwall Business Council said: "We had really been building up great expectations surrounding the new flag-ship vehicle and we have been long overdue for that.

"We have had to put up with some very dated rolling stock for a long time.

"And now we find it doesn't work for the simplest of reasons

"It's a PR calamity for Virgin and a great disappointment for the business community."

Trains cancelled

Passengers on Virgin's cross country routes, which stretch between Penzance and Aberdeen, have suffered delays, cancellations, packed carriages and alternative bus services.

Two Voyager services were cancelled on Wednesday morning because of sea spray at Dawlish.

Kirstin Neilson-Hunter, BBC travel reporter for the South West, said: "This is the third morning running that we have had cancellations on the Voyager service.

"Every time there is sea spray they will not go."


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See also:

19 Nov 02 | England
10 Oct 02 | England
30 Sep 02 | England
30 Sep 02 | Scotland
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