Train passengers on the East Coast Main Line were today told ‘do not travel’ as lines were blocked following a lightning strike.
Furious travellers slammed the ‘ridiculous’ delays as the transport network struggled to cope with sizzling 95F (35C) temperatures and high passenger numbers.
Passengers were urged to avoid travelling on London North Eastern Railway after a lightning strike damaged the signalling system between Leeds and York.
Passengers pile onto a train at Newcastle today as the East Coast Main Line is hit by delays
Passengers wait for information on delayed trains at Leeds station in West Yorkshire today
The departure board did not make good reading for rail travellers at Leeds station today
The problems affected LNER, which operates between London and Edinburgh, while Northern advised passengers not to travel in Yorkshire due to the same issue.
Hundreds of passengers took to Twitter as they tried to replan their routes, or simply to vent their frustation at being severely delayed on their journeys.
Alexander Wright, of Stillington, North Yorkshire, tweeted: ‘Here we are again, LNER. An eye wateringly expensive, impossibly busy, very delayed train service.
‘Sat on a floor by a bin. My, my, you do make living in the North and working in the South a real easy affordable joy, don’t you.’
Train passengers on the East Coast Main Line were today told ‘do not travel’ by operator LNER
Passengers wait for updates at York station as the London North Eastern Railway suffers delays
Passengers wait at Leeds station for news on the London North Eastern Railway route today
Joanne Brayson, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, added: ‘I better be getting a refund LNER for all this! I’ve been stuck on the bridge going back in to Newcastle for nearly half an hour now. This is ridiculous. I just want to get off this train!’
And Katherine Part, of South East London, tweeted: ‘LNER, what a shocking mess of a chaotic journey. London to Leeds train cancelled after an hour delay.
‘Travelling with two small kids and after paying extra for four-year-old to get a seat he is on my lap from London to Doncaster. Not that I can *get* trains to Leeds there either #epicfail.’
The dozens of cancellations came on one of the busiest days of the year for travel as many people begin summer holidays.
An LNER spokesman tweeted: ‘Due to the extreme weather conditions and signalling failure throughout the route our advice to passengers is as follows: do not travel today. Tickets will be valid for tomorrow and Sunday.’
People wait behind barriers at Leeds station today as East Coast Main Line trains are delayed
But, responding to LNER’s advice for people not to travel, Jonathan Ellis wrote on Twitter: ‘How can you give this advice? People have places to be, things to do.
‘We can’t just delay by a day or two. Have some respect for paying passengers and find a real solution. This weather has been expected all week.’
Another passenger described how a train from London to Leeds was ‘unbearable, crammed with people’, adding that the temperature on board was 91F (33C) and ‘people can’t breathe’.
A spokesman for Network Rail, the Government-owned company responsible for Britain’s rail infrastructure, said: ‘Due to today’s severe weather, there is currently widespread disruption to services.
‘Teams from Network Rail have been, and continue to be, on standby this morning and are out responding to issues and are working hard to restore services where possible.’
The departure boards simply state ‘no communications’ at York train station today
Passengers wait for updates in front of the departure boards at Leeds railway station
Meanwhile the plans of many passengers travelling to France on cross-Channel rail operator Eurotunnel were left in limbo after their tickets were cancelled.
Passengers faced queues of up to six-and-a-half hours yesterday caused by air conditioning units failing, and there were still waits of up to four hours today.
People were prevented from travelling on Friday if they were due to return on the same day or Saturday.
Some Eurostar trains from London to Paris and Brussels were delayed by around half an hour, with the disruption was due to the ‘high volume of passengers’.
A Eurostar train manager tweeted that a train to the Belgian capital was delayed because of ‘congestion at border control’ at London St Pancras International.
Other rail journeys were disrupted by the hot weather as train speeds were cut to reduce the likelihood of tracks buckling.
Chiltern Railways trains between Oxford and London Marylebone were affected, following disruption to Greater Anglia services earlier this week.
Cutting the speed of trains reduces the forces they exert on the track, making rails less likely to buckle.
Today is expected to be the busiest day of the summer for flights as many people begin summer holidays.
Nats, the UK air traffic control service, is due to handle 8,841 flights in 24 hours, with London Heathrow to Dublin, New York and Frankfurt the most popular routes.
The top temperature so far today was 94.5F (34.7C) in Norfolk. Drivers were warned over melting roads, with episodes reported in Brighton and Godalming, Surrey.
The RAC experienced an increase in breakdowns of around 15 to 20 per cent yesterday compared with a typical day in late July.
In recent days the company has seen a spike in call-outs for air conditioning failures, tyre punctures, misfuels and people locking themselves out of cars.
The Met Office has forecast highs of 99F (37C) today along with thunderstorms in northern and eastern England, as Britain’s longest heatwave since 1976 continues.
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