More rail misery for thousands as signals fault causes mayhem
THOUSANDS of rail commuters suffered major disruption for the second time in four days when equipment installed after last week's derailment at Waverley station in Edinburgh failed yesterday.
Nearly 240 trains were cancelled or delayed following a signalling fault during the morning rush hour which took more than three hours to fix. Total delays were more than 126 hours.
Passenger watchdogs said poor communications added to the misery for people returning to work after the festive break.
They warned that until upgrading work at the station was finished at the end of the year, any further such faults could paralyse the rail network around Edinburgh.
Network Rail said a track circuit, which provides information about the location of trains for signallers, failed at the west end of the station at 8:30am.
A spokeswoman said the problem had been caused by a faulty part, which had been fitted following damage to the track caused when an empty sleeper train derailed last Thursday night.
The faulty equipment is believed to cost several hundred pounds.
The fault severely restricted the number of trains able to use the western approaches to the station, with services on many lines halved in frequency and Fife trains halted at Haymarket.
Glasgow trains ran only every half hour, and Bathgate and Dunblane services were cut to hourly. Some passengers said their journeys took twice as long as normal.
The problem was fixed and services started to return to normal at 12:50pm.
James King, the board member for Scotland for Passenger Focus, the former Rail Passengers Council, and who was caught up in the disruption, said lessons must be learned.
He said: "Thousands of passengers suffered considerable delays last Friday as a result of the derailment. Despite the track repairs being completed on time, over the weekend a major signalling problem occurred at Waverley this morning. It caused dozens of cancelled and delayed trains and brought more back-to-work misery for passengers, exacerbated by platforms out of use for rebuilding."
He added: "In addition, unclear communications confused passengers about what services were running.Until the Waverley upgrading work is finished at the end of 2007, any track or signalling problem in the vicinity will have the ability to paralyse the east central Scotland network. Passengers look to Network Rail to deliver a resilient system and to all parties to improve communications with when things do go wrong."
Last night a spokeswoman for First Scotrail said: "We apologise for any delay or disruption suffered by passengers."
The sleeper derailment blocked tracks and caused similar disruption on Friday. The carriages were being pulled into the station to form the London sleeper.
Passengers had to be transferred by coach to Carlisle to join the sleeper service from Glasgow.
An investigation into the cause is continuing, led by the Department for Transport's rail accident investigation branch.
The station upgrading includes new platforms and streamlining of track layouts to enable more trains to run.
• Passengers travelling on the Glasgow Subway suffered disruption yesterday when services were suspended after a man was struck by a train at St Enoch station in the city centre at 1:30pm.
The man, who was in a critical condition in hospital last night, is believed to have been standing on the tracks in the path of the train.
Strathclyde Fire and Rescue rescued the man, who was reported to have been trapped under the train.
Services were halted until 3:10pm, but the platform at St Enoch close to where the incident happened was not reopened until 4:30pm.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east