Britain’s busiest rail station, London Waterloo, was once again closed for the start of the morning rush hour due to overrunning engineering works – for the second time in four months.
The station is normally the arrival point for around 250,000 commuters every morning, from south-west London, Surrey, Hampshire and beyond.
With many of them finding their morning journeys impossible, the financial damage to the wider economy will run into millions of pounds.
The vast majority of trains serving London Waterloo are electric. One diesel train arrived from Salisbury just after 7am – with thousands of commuters squeezed on board. It departed for Exeter 10 minutes later.
By 7.30am, a number of trains had started to arrive, including some from the suburbs.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We apologise to passengers for the disruption to services across the South Western network this morning owing to a possession overrun.”
“Disruption, including severe delays and cancellations, will last until the afternoon.”
South Western Railway, the train operator, said: “We were earlier informed of over-running engineering work in the London Waterloo area.
“Network Rail engineers have now resolved the issue. However during the closure, trains were unable to leave a number of depots and enter services. As a result there will be residual delays and alterations to services throughout the morning.”
“We are very sorry for any delay that this may cause to your journey.”
As trains and train crew are in the wrong locations for their planned operations, services are unlikely to be back to normal until the start of the afternoon rush.
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Passengers are being told that they can use CrossCountry, Great Western Railway and Southern services.
On 19 November 2018, overrunning work involving a single buckled rail led to the closure of Waterloo station for the morning rush hour.
One commuter, Silvia Mendes, demanded to know from Network Rail: “What will you be doing to ensure there’s no repeat of this?
“‘Overrunning engineering works’ seems to be a recurring theme.
“Quite frankly, when paying £400 a month, it really isn’t good enough.”
The shutdown happened as the rail industry announced that trains which arrive late will now be recorded as delayed.
Previously official figures allowed a delay of five minutes, or 10 minutes for long-distance services.