THOUSANDS of rail passengers travelling between York and London are facing travel misery today because of an overhead wire collapse on the East Coast Mainline.
Services run by East Coast and Grand Central have been severely disrupted, with journeys expected to take up to an hour longer than normal due to the problem at St Neots, in Cambridgeshire, and further disruption is expected tomorrow.
A limited East Coast service - one train an hour - has replaced the normal trains between Peterborough and London Kings Cross, after buses had to be brought in between the stations earlier today. The services are leaving London on the hour, and leaving Peterborough at 30 minutes past each hour, with all trains calling at Stevenage. Grand Central and First Hull services are making additional stops at Peterborough to provide extra space and East Coast tickets are valid on these trains as well as on alternative routes to London, including East Midlands Trains and Virgin West Coast routes.
East Coast passengers travelling to and from stations south of Peterborough, including Kings Cross, are being advised not to travel today unless absolutely necessary, and tickets for today will still be valid for travel tomorrow. All ticket restrictions on East Coast trains have been lifted for the rest of today.
"We apologise to passengers for this disruption to travel and Network Rail, which manages infrastructure on the railway, have teams working hard to repair the damage, which extends over one kilometre of the line," said an East Coast spokesman.
"We are hopeful a near-normal East Coast service will be able to resume tomorrow morning."
The company has advised passengers to check before travelling, with information available at eastcoast.co.uk, by following @eastcoastuk on twitter, using the hashtag #StNeots, or by phoning National Rail Enquiries on 08457 484950.
It has been reported that the problem led to some passengers, including football fans who had attended the Champions League match between Arsenal and Bayern Munich, having to spend last night on a train at Kings Cross after the last service was cancelled. The station remained open all night as passengers refused to leave the train, with the London Evening Standard saying a decision was made to allow them to stay on it.
The problem has emerged as a report by the Office of Rail Regulation accused Network Rail of "areas of poor management of the railways" and instances of "basic operational planning mistakes". Bob Crow, leader of transport union RMT, said he had been warning about a shortage of overhead line crew and capacity for many years.
Are you affected by the rail chaos? Phone The Press newsdesk on 01904 567131, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @yorkpress.