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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 22:29 GMT 23:29 UK
Commuters' blackout misery
Commuters crowd Bank station
Massive crowds formed on the tube
Thousands of people experienced chaos on public transport as the power cut meant a difficult journey home in London and the South East.

Many were left with the prospect of arriving several hours after leaving work as most tube lines closed, overland trains were cancelled and demand for buses and taxis soared.

Richard Jacques was trying to struggle back to Waltham Abbey in Essex after a day trip into London to go on the Millennium Eye.

Mr Jacques said tube staff had done their best but he had had no idea how he would get back.

"The weather hasn't done much. It was pouring with rain and that adds to the temper.

"There must be something wrong with the finances if they can't fund a back-up system for it."

The infrastructure is terrible - it's really quite worrying
Valerie Chalancon
Sandra Bell was in London's Oxford Street when the power cut began and after more than two hours was still stuck in central London.

"I've still got a long way to get back to Blackheath in south-east London. It will be a very long night. I might have to get myself a cardboard box."

Civil servant Alan Basford, 52, from Meopham, Kent, said: "This disruption seems very similar to what happened in New York, and it's also a bit strange the two events have happened close together."

Teacher Valerie Chalancon, 33, from Rochester, Kent, said: "It's quite amazing that a big city like London can be brought to a standstill like this.

"The infrastructure is terrible - it's really quite worrying.

"But there always seems to be a problem with the trains. It's a real struggle to travel sometimes, I don't know what's going to happen to the system in the future."

Excessive complaining

But many remained in relatively good spirits despite the prospect of their tortuous journey home.

Jane Munro, 40, a property manager, was waiting for a bus to begin her 50-mile journey to Sandy in Bedfordshire, but said there was too much complaining about the transport system.

She said: "We don't live in a country where you see people hanging off the trains from the doors and windows just to travel from A to B, problems like tonight happen but once in a blue moon.

"You cannot spend millions of pounds having a back-up plan for something that very rarely happens, but this doesn't mean I like it.

"I still think we could have been told much more about what was going on. That part was unacceptable."

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