Rail chaos hits hundreds of thousands at start of working week

Hundreds of thousands of rail commuters face a chaotic start to the working week due to a series of points and signal failures in Sussex and south-east London, a landslip in Berkshire and industrial action on the East Coast main line.

The main London-Brighton line and the Great Western line from London to Reading, the West of England and South Wales are severely disrupted.

Southern and Thameslink trains between the South Coast and London are severely disrupted by “a substantial fault” affecting signalling equipment between Three Bridges and the Sussex Coast.

“Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express are working to run as many trains as they can, but despite much of the equipment being restored, there are still problems with various sets of points.” the operators say.

“There is still only a very limited number of lines available to run trains through Hove, Preston Park and Haywards Heath. The reduction in the capacity for trains means we are having to cancel a large number of them.”

Some trains are running over an hour late. Passengers are being urged “to travel later today, wherever possible”.

Travellers are told: “If you do travel now, it’s likely you will need to use an alternative train, change trains more often, or use another route. This will take up to an hour longer than usual.

“Where trains do operate, they will be very busy, and local buses will have more passengers than usual.”

Southern told passengers: “We appreciate there has been multiple service changes this morning and we thank you for your patience.”

All Gatwick Express services are currently suspended, along with the Brighton-London St Pancras-Cambridge link and the Littlehampton-London Victoria route.

Airline passengers using Gatwick and Luton airports are severely affected, as Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express are the main form of public transport to both – though Luton passengers are being allowed to use East Midlands Railway services.

Passengers from Brighton to London are being offered the chance to travel via Lewes.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “At 3.04am there was a loss of power with provider UK Power Networks which significantly impacted our Three Bridges Signalling Centre which controls the signalling – the railway’s traffic light system – across the majority of our Sussex route.

“All signalling was restored at 6.30am and while some Southern services have resumed operating across the Sussex route, a number of Southern and Thameslink services remain significantly disrupted.

“We’re really sorry to any passengers disrupted this morning and we encourage passengers to check with their train operator before travelling for the latest information and updates.”

In south-east London, no trains are running through the key stations of Deptford and Greenwich due to a points failure.

The Great Western line between London Paddington and Reading is partially closed because of a landslip near Twyford.

Only two of the four running lines can be used, which has sharply reduced capacity. Dozens of trains have been cancelled and many others delayed.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We’re really sorry for the disruption to Great Western and Elizabeth Line services between London Paddington and Reading owing to a landslip in the Twyford area. Our engineers are on site working to safely reopen all lines as soon as possible, but disruption may continue throughout today.”

On the East Coast main line, which connects London King’s Cross with Yorkshire, northeast England and Scotland, LNER has cancelled around a dozen trains due to industrial action.