Edinburgh Waverley rail disruption: Huge power surge ‘fried everything’
A massive power surge that led to the cancellation of more than 300 trains and disrupted thousands of passengers at Edinburgh Waverley Station was so severe it “effectively fried everything in the system”, Network Rail has told The Scotsman.
The huge electrical fault shortly before 5pm on Thursday knocked out signalling and brought all trains to a halt in and around Scotland’s second busiest station for around seven hours. There were reports of hotel room prices spiking by late in the evening, while a dearth of replacement buses left some passengers paying £150 to get taxis home.
The operator, which described the stoppages as “incredibly disruptive” to its passengers, encouraged those who had paid for taxis or hotels to also submit claims.
While ScotRail passengers were the worst affected, customers of six other train operators were also hit – LNER, CrossCountry, TransPennine Express, Avanti West Coast, Lumo and Caledonian Sleeper.
Lines where trains were halted included to Glasgow, Fife, North Berwick, Tweedbank, Aberdeen, Inverness and London. Trains were running near normally again on Friday morning after around ten knock-on cancellations, such as to and from Fife.
Network Rail, which is responsible for signalling and also runs Waverley Station, said the standstill had been caused by a “high voltage cable fault”. It said a “very detailed technical investigation” was underway.
It told The Scotsman: "What appears to have happened is that the scale of the surge has effectively fried everything in the system.” This is believed to have knocked out “surge arresters” along with a new back-up system that was tested only last week.
A ScottishPower spokesperson said: “We are working with Network Rail to assist their investigations and ensure secure supplies into Waverley.”
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We sincerely apologise to our customers for the significant disruption. A power surge on the national grid had a major impact on our signalling around Edinburgh Waverley. The surge caused our signalling systems to reset and our track-side signals to turn red – stopping trains to keep our customers and staff safe.
“Due to the complexity of our signalling, which relies on a number of computer and telecoms systems to operate, identifying the root cause of the fault and restoring control of the signalling was a difficult process to complete quickly.
“We are continuing to investigate the cause of the problem and learn any lessons to improve the resilience of our network.”
ScotRail had pledged to learn lessons over handing disruption after a major incident that was described as “shambolic” during the Edinburgh Festival in 2019.
David Simpson, its service delivery director, said: “We are sorry to our customers for the disruption this incident caused, and we share in their frustration at the impact it had on their journeys.
“Our colleagues at Network Rail worked through the night to resolve the fault, and we have worked flat out to get trains in place to run a full service this morning. Anyone delayed by 30 minutes or more is entitled to compensation through our Delay Repay Guarantee, and can claim on the ScotRail website or mobile app.”
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