Overhead Line Problems

Fallen overhead power cables caused big problems on trains through Watford Junction and Hemel Hempstead on the morning of Friday 1 March 2013.

The problems at Hanslope, near Wolverton, meant London Midland and Virgin Trains could not run services between Milton Keynes and Rugby.

This had a knock-on effect on trains through places like Watford Junction, Hemel Hempstead and Leighton Buzzard.

Replacement buses had to run instead between Milton Keynes and Northampton, and Northampton and Wellingborough, allowing passengers to catch East Midlands Trains services into London St Pancras.

London Midland Tweeted the picture right showing the scene at Hanslope, saying: "Here's the scene at #Hanslope showing extent of problem. It'll take many hours to fix this I'm afraid."

Two of the four West Coast lines were able to reopen at around 10.00am on Friday 1 March, allowing a limited service on London Midland and Virgin Trains.

The Wolverton problem follows serious delays during February 2013 caused by overhead line difficulties at Radlett in Hertfordshire and St Neots in Cambridgeshire.

The RMT and TSSA unions questioned the adequacy of staffing levels following these incidents.

Speaking of "three chaotic failures in three weeks'', RMT leader Bob Crow called for "cuts to staffing and to overhead line capacity to be reversed''.

TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: "This is the third week running that we have had major disruption on either the East or West Coast main lines because of problems with overhead power lines.

"We have to ask ourselves if Network Rail has cut back too far on maintenance spending in the past five years, and whether rail regulators and ministers are right to press it for further cutbacks of up to 19% over the next five years.

"These cuts are leading to a second-class railway for passengers who already pay the highest fares in Europe. They should be stopped immediately.''

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