Wheelchair-bound Scot trapped in 15-hour rail nightmare amid flooding chaos

A wheelchair-bound Scot has told of his 15-hour rail nightmare trying to travel home from London amid flooding chaos.

Steve Sinclair, from Stevenston, North Ayrshire, saw his Avanti West Coast train break down for five hours in the West Midlands countryside on Wednesday on the way back to Glasgow.

Eventually, passengers were evacuated via ramps to another train on the tracks - but then faced a further lengthy 90-minute delay before it started moving again.

Then at the next stop, passengers going to Glasgow were put onto another train to Preston - where the service was delayed for a further hour because there was no driver.

It comes as thousands of passengers suffered disruption after a major stretch of the West Coast Main Line was blocked due to floods.

National Rail Enquiries said the route from Carlisle to Lockerbie was shut down due to a deluge of water on the railways, with operators like Avanti, TransPennine Express, ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper all affected and disruption continuing today.

Steve, 64, who has been in a wheelchair for 25 years and has thyroid cancer, slammed Avanti head office for the “clusterf**k” as he tried to get home from London.

He departed London Euston on the 11.30am service which should have got him into Glasgow Central at 4.30pm.

Customers have accused the firm of "abandoning" them on New Year's Eve
Avanti West Coast slammed for handling of floods chaos. -Credit:Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Instead, the service broke down due to a train fault in Staffordshire shortly after 1pm - and left passengers stranded there until the rescue train pulled up around 5.45pm.

Steve eventually got into Glasgow around 1am - then had to drive home to Stevenston, not getting in until 2.30am, 15 hours on from first leaving London Euston.

He told the Record: “The staff on the ground were knocking their pan in and I can’t sing their praises highly enough.

“They were absolutely brilliant - but they were badly let down by Avanti head office.

“There was a complete lack of information coming through about what was happening.

“It was a complete clusterf**k - and really poor customer service, not from the staff on the ground but from management and whoever was in charge.

“I didn’t panic because panic never helped anybody - but we were getting to 9pm or 10pm doing 15 miles per hour through floodwater and you were thinking, ‘when is this going to end?’”

An Avanti West Coast spokesman said: “We are really sorry to hear about Steve’s experience and thank him for his patience. His train unfortunately had a damaged pantograph which meant it had to be evacuated, and his onward journey was impacted by flooding.

"Our frontline teams take pride in providing great customer service, especially in times of disruption like yesterday’s challenging circumstances and we always appreciate any praise for them."

In a wider statement this morning, Avanti told passengers: "Please do not attempt to travel with us between Preston and Scotland.

"We're really sorry if this affects your journey today."

The company told ticketholders they can travel with other operators such as LNER on the East Coast Main Line, postpone their journey or request a refund.

TransPennine Express commercial director Darren Higgins said: "Due to flooding on the railway line north of Carlisle, train services are significantly disrupted.

"The safety of our customers and colleagues is our priority and we are urging customers not to travel between Manchester, Liverpool (or) Preston to Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

"Anyone planning on travelling by train today can choose to defer their travel or claim a refund."

ScotRail services between Carlisle and Glasgow Central are expected to start/terminate at Dumfries.

Avanti were asked for further comment on Wednesday’s disruption.

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