UK

Cold snap and track faults lead to rail chaos

Rail passengers were hit by disruption on Thursday as several major routes were affected by infrastructure faults and low temperatures (Alamy/PA)
Rail passengers were hit by disruption on Thursday as several major routes were affected by infrastructure faults and low temperatures (Alamy/PA) Rail passengers were hit by disruption on Thursday as several major routes were affected by infrastructure faults and low temperatures (Alamy/PA)

Rail passengers were hit by disruption on Thursday as several major routes were affected by infrastructure faults and low temperatures.

East Midlands Railway said services between London St Pancras and Corby were cancelled and delayed due to “a shortage of trains after damage caused by ice”.

Frost was blamed for c2c cancellations from Leigh-on-Sea to London’s Fenchurch Street.

Great Western Railway and Elizabeth line services between London Paddington and Reading were forced to run at a reduced speed due to a broken rail, which was expected to cause delays throughout the day.

The operator said the problem was discovered in the area around Hayes & Harlington station, west London, early on Wednesday, with Network Rail unable to carry out a full repair until Thursday night.

The defect was at a set of points used to transfer trains from one track to another.

It was the fourth damaged rail found on the Great Western line within eight days, the BBC reported.

Separate points failures disrupted South Western Railway trains at London Waterloo – the UK’s busiest railway station – and Thameslink services between Sutton and Luton.

Thameslink was prevented from running trains between Wimbledon and Sutton due to the fault.

All lines were closed between Birmingham New Street and Longbridge because emergency services were dealing with an incident.

A fault with the signalling system was disrupting trains between Nottingham and Worksop.

On Wednesday, regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) launched an investigation into train performance on Network Rail’s Wales and western route, which stretches from Paddington to Penzance in Cornwall and Swansea.

ORR director of performance and planning, Feras Alshaker, said: “While Network Rail has begun making good progress in stabilising performance elsewhere on the network, performance in the Wales and western region has continued to deteriorate, meaning poor reliability and punctuality for passengers and freight.”

Network Rail’s managing director for the route, Michelle Handforth, said: “We welcome this cross-industry review which recognises the importance of Network Rail and the train operating companies working effectively together to deliver a reliable railway for the thousands of passengers and freight customers who depend on it every day.

“We know that when we work efficiently and effectively with train and freight operating companies it leads to more reliable services.

“However, we recognise there is much more work to be done across our region, and our biggest challenge is within the critical Thames Valley, which is one of the busiest railway corridors in the country.”

Ten days of industrial action by train drivers’ union Aslef starts on Friday and is expected to have a major impact on services.