London Waterloo: South Western Railway delays as engineering works overrun

UK
Clapham JunctionImage copyright @zhangxipo
Image caption Thousands of commuters including these at Clapham Junction have been left stranded

Rail commuters are facing major disruption after engineering works overran.

South Western Railway services between Surbiton and London Waterloo, the UK’s busiest station, only began running at about 10:00 GMT.

Disruption on SWR services is “expected until the end of the day”, after Network Rail work, due to finish at 04:30, was delayed.

Normally packed rush hour trains were cancelled, leaving thousands stranded.

One passenger blasted the travel chaos as “a complete and utter shambles”, with another suggesting “critical jobs” such as teachers, doctors and nurses would be affected.

Southern services between East Croydon and London Victoria have also been hit by over-running engineering works.

Network Rail has apologised to passengers, while SWR has warned that services across its entire network may be cancelled, delayed or revised all day.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We share the frustrations of passengers trying to get into London this morning.

“The disruption is unacceptable, and we are seeking an urgent explanation from Network Rail as to why their engineering works have overrun.”

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Veronica from Aldershot is due to become a British citizen at a ceremony in Surbiton, but said she was worried she could miss the ceremony at 14:00.

She said: “What I expected to be a straight 30-35 train journey has become more and more uncertain.

“We have no clear way to get to where we need to go. I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Ashley Trim, who lives in Clapham, was travelling from Clapham Junction to work at John Lewis HQ in Bracknell.

He said: “I have got a stockpile of compensation claims in my house because it’s happening so much.”

Matthew Smith’s train from Portsmouth to London was cancelled, so he was forced to take a National Express coach.

Mr Smith said: “For the last five weeks, I have experienced delays or cancellations by up to 45 minutes every day. There is always some issue on the network.”

On social media, Silvia Mendes described the disruption as a “complete and utter shambles” while Richard Sansom simply posted: “You have got to be kidding me @SW_Railway.”

Network Rail said overnight work near Hampton Court was originally due to finish at 04:30 GMT but overran, hitting the morning rush hour.

In a statement shortly after 10:00 SWR said: “All lines have now re-opened. Network Rail has now completed their work.”

All lines and stations that were closed, including Woking, Surbiton, Raynes Park and Earlsfield, have now reopened.

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A Network Rail spokesman said: “We would like to apologise for the disruption to passengers’ journeys on South Western this morning.

“This is due to over-running engineering works in the Hampton Court area.”

A long-running dispute over the role of guards on trains has previously crippled SWR services because of strikes.

SWR operates from London Waterloo to Berkshire, Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Image copyright @lockworm
Image caption Disruption is expected “until the end of the day” at Waterloo station

Passengers have also been told that trains across the whole Southern and Thameslink network may be delayed, cancelled or revised on Monday morning due to over-running engineering work at various locations, with disruption continuing until noon.

The rail operator said services may be cancelled or diverted via London Bridge.

‘Crisis on railways’

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union called for the resignation of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling after what it called the latest railway “meltdown”.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “While the crisis on our railways deepens, the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is markedly absent… He should go, and he should go now.”

Lib Dem MP Ed Davey, who represents Kingston and Surbiton, tweeted: “Commuters will be extremely angry today that, after 18 months of appalling services, stations are shut and trains cancelled due to Network Rail failing to do engineering works on time. When will Grayling act?!”

Tooting’s Labour MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said the response to the disruption was “not good enough”.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Passengers rely on the railway – this morning tens of thousands of passengers coming into Waterloo could not.

“While engineering and improvement works need to be done, such late notice of the fundamental problems on the approaches to Waterloo this morning is unacceptable.”

Passengers are entitled to “delay repay” compensation if cancellations cause delays to their journey of 15 minutes or more.

The amount varies depending on the length of the delay and whether someone is using a single, return or season ticket.

An annual season ticket between Surbiton and London Waterloo, the route that was closed, costs £1,912.


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