UK wide rail chaos following cable collapse

Hundreds of rail passengers were facing yet another bout of New Year delays today after overhead cables came down and halted trains in and out of one of the busiest stations.

In the third major railway disruption in five days, wires came down last night between North Wembley in London and Kings Langley in Hertfordshire, preventing a number of services going to or from London Euston.

Passengers were left facing long delays while they waited for replacement buses to ferry them to their destinations including Manchester, Birmingham and Milton Keynes.

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Network Rail said services on the southern section of the busy West Coast Mainline had been affected, and engineers were working to repair the damage.

Commuters are being urged to check with their service provider before travelling today.

The latest delay comes after travellers were disrupted on Monday despite engineers working through the night to repair damaged power lines which had stopped trains running on the West Coast Mainline.

Virgin Trains had to cancel one service in three between Euston and Birmingham and between Euston and Manchester following Sunday's overhead cable problem at Watford in Hertfordshire.

And on Saturday the West Coast Mainline was closed when a plane ploughed into it in Little Haywood, near Stafford, at noon on Friday.

The crash claimed three lives and left thousands of rail passengers stranded as services were brought to a halt.

A Network Rail spokesman said today: "Network Rail has rushed teams to the scene and are working on the problem to try to get things fixed as soon as possible.

"Passengers are advised to check with their train operators or National Rail Enquiries before travelling."

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One passenger trying to go home to London from Manchester last night said he had been taken to Milton Keynes instead and told to wait for a replacement bus.

"The train I was on got slower and slower after leaving Milton Keynes," he said.

"There are up to 200 people waiting here for these coaches and we don't know when they're going to arrive."

Another passenger trying to get to London, professional jazz singer and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson, entertained the crowd waiting at Milton Keynes railway station with an impromptu performance.

Virgin Trains said there were no suspicions that vandalism or terrorism was behind the separate incidents.

A spokesman said: "All these incidents are being investigated by Network Rail and there's no particular conclusions as yet as to why this is happening.

"I certainly don't think it's suspicious. It's a technical issue."

Passengers arriving at Euston station this morning were greeted by virtually empty departure boards and announcements telling them to seek alternative routes.

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No Virgin or London Midland trains were running from the station this morning and passengers were being directed to other London stations. They were told their tickets would be valid on alternative routes.

Many of those waiting had no idea there were problems until they arrived.

Samantha Buckley, 21, had returned from a skiing holiday in France and expected to catch the 8.20am Manchester Piccadilly service home to Wilmslow, Cheshire.

"I don't really know what's going on. I don't know what I'll do now," she said.

Twins Alastair and Rory Mitchell, 23, from Fulham, south west London, had been due to catch the 8.30am Virgin service to Glasgow to visit a friend until Friday.

Alastair said he knew there had been problems for several days and added: "I thought they would have dealt with it".

The brothers planned to go to King's Cross station to catch a Glasgow train instead.

Alastair added: "We were spending most of the trip on trains anyway so it's not great news."

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An NR spokesman said Virgin and London Midland expected to run trains to and from Euston by around 10am.

He added that Virgin would be operating a reduced service of two trains per hour from Euston to Birmingham and Manchester and one per hour to Chester, Liverpool and Glasgow.

London Midland would also be running a modified service.

The spokesman went on: "Our specialists will work throughout the day and night to repair the infrastructure with the aim of a full service tomorrow morning.

"Passengers are advised to check with train operators or national rail inquiries before travelling. Network Rail apologises to anyone whose journeys have been disrupted."