Passengers suffer long train delays
RAIL passengers suffered mass disruption yesterday morning after services in the Swindon area were cancelled due to a major signalling failure.
Hundreds of commuters both to London and the west had to disembark at Swindon station and continue their journey by road, while coaches were also laid on for those hoping to board at Swindon.
The disruption affected First Great Western services between London, the Thames Valley, the west of England and South Wales, with some passengers stuck for long periods on stationary trains in the Wootton Basset, South Marston and Hullavington areas.
Network Rail said the problem was due to the failure of a power supply transformer, which shut down signalling west of Swindon to Bath Spa and Bristol, just after 7am.
The problem was solved by 9.30am but disruption continued into the morning. At Swindon, scores of passengers waited to board emergency coaches.
Jackie Stanley, of Covingham, originally hoped to board a service to Bristol Parkway and change for Birmingham, where she planned to celebrate her 58th birthday with friends.
“We have a show booked for tomorrow for my birthday and we have got tickets for the aquarium in Birmingham,” she said. “I’m not too happy. It’s not how I envisaged my birthday.”
Her friend Susan Dagless, of Groundwell West, a regular commuter to Bristol, said: “It’s the norm. I commute every day. The signal failure happens quite a bit. They usually just leave you standing until eventually a train runs, so the buses are a novelty.”
Brian Biddlecombe, who works in IT, missed a meeting with his boss in London and planned to get a bus back to Bristol.
He said: “I got stuck about half a mile out of Swindon for an hour and three quarters. The train just sat there. “My boss has told me not bother going into London because it’s too late now and I’m struggling to find out how to get back to Bristol. “But it’s life, it happens. It’s not anyone’s fault.”
Station manager Lynn Edginton said staff ordered emergency transport within 10 minutes of the fault and they were on the scene in 40 minutes, with 10 52-seater coaches filling up within 80 minutes.
She said: “Our priority is getting people to Reading for London Paddington, and we filled our first coaches as soon as we had them and sent them to Reading. “More coaches started to arrive and we sent them to Temple Meads, Chippenham, Bath and Bristol Parkway for South Wales.”
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “A major signalling failure meant trains were unable to run through the Swindon area. “This caused significant disruption to services on the Great Western Main Line between London, the Thames Valley, the west of England and South Wales.
“Engineers worked at a number of locations to rectify the fault . “We worked closely with First Great Western to divert or amend services where possible to keep as many people moving as possible, and other train operators also accepted tickets on alternative routes.”
First Great Western said the delays and cancellations came to an end at noon and the service returned to normal.