TRAINS travelling through Swindon ground to a halt during the morning rush hour yesterday as a signalling fault threw services heading to London into chaos.

At around 8.30am, the signalling system in Twyford, near Reading, failed completely, meaning journeys heading from South Wales to London were unable to complete their journeys.

First Great Western appealed to other regional companies, including South West Trains and Cross Country, to assist in helping passengers find alternative routes.

Network Rail attended the fault and the signals were working as normal by noon, but there was residual disruption to services throughout the day and into the evening peak.

A First Great Western spokesman said: “Network Rail managed to get a work-around in place from just after 11am. By that stage none of our trains were in the right places and many of our staff were not in the right places.

“Because the main issue was between Reading and London, we made our tickets available for all other operators in the area. People were advised to travel via Waterloo station, and to use either South West Trains or Cross Country.

“It is quite difficult in circumstances like these but we want to keep people moving as much as possible. We are still seeing some residual delays, but we were back to normal by the evening peak period. We are advising people to check the latest on their services either in the station or online.”

Network Rail engineers have remained at the site of the fault to establish the cause, which they believe began at the Didcot signalling hub. A spokesman for Network Rail said: “The signalling fault occurred close to Reading, and we had to turn trains around because of the disruption and ground them at the stations.

“From around midday the signalling was back to normal, but we do have a backlog of delayed services. Engineers are still trying to rectify the cause of the fault, which we believe to have originated at the Didcot signalling centre.”