A LIGHTNING strike caused chaos at York Station today leading to long delays for thousands of passengers across the area.

Commuters reported hearing a bang just before 7am which caused the roof to shake after it was hit in the area of the station near platform 11.

One passenger Reuben Hartley, 34, said: "At first, everyone thought a bomb had gone off.

"It was just a huge bang and we were all looking around wondering what had happened.

"Staff didn't tell us anything for at least ten minutes because I think nobody knew what had happened.

"Then all the boards started flashing up delayed' and people were just walking around confused until they told us what was going on."

An announcement was made over the station's tannoy system saying: "We apologise for the delays and this is due to a lightening strike."

Thousands of passengers were affected throughout the morning as many trains were cancelled and scores of others faced long delays.

Special bus services had to be called up at the last minute to ferry passengers to Leeds and Manchester and also to South Yorkshire.

One rail worker, who did not want to be named, revealed a strike at the station had affected all the signalling leading to problems on all trains trying to get of York.

He said the delays would continue throughout the morning until at least 11.30am as staff tried to catch up.

A GNER spokesman said it was likely that more than 1,000 of its passengers had been affected.

"This lightning strike has affected signalling around York. That has meant we have been unable to operate trains south of York," he said.

"We have laid on coaches between Doncaster and York and we are still affected by that."

The spokesman said it was believed the lightning strike hit the west side of the rail station, somewhere in the area around Platform 11.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "At 6.55am there was a lightning strike in York. It knocked out 12 of the signalling modules and we couldn't move trains through York. We have been working hard to rectify the situation to move trains through York. After about 9am, everything was moving close to timetable, but there are still delays and knock-on effects."

A Virgin Rail spokesman said it had been unable to run any services north of Leeds or south of Newcastle until 9.20am this morning.

But, despite the significant disruption to the company's Cross Country services, the firm did not have to put on replacement coaches for passengers.

"It is difficult to say how many passengers are affected but it is causing major disruption," he said. "We have been in the hands of Network Rail and have just had to wait.

"The line was reopened at about 9.20am, but there are still delays for our services."

Northern Rail, which runs some services in North Yorkshire including York to Selby, said it had also been affected by the signalling short-out, but said all its trains were running as normal by 10am.