‘Monday mayhem’ for thousands of rail passengers as engineering works over-run

Over-running engineering works caused travel chaos for hundreds of thousands of rail passengers on Monday, leading to stations being closed and scores of services cancelled.

South Western Railway advised passengers not to travel as none of its trains were running between Surbiton and London Waterloo – the UK’s busiest railway station.

Southern and Thameslink services were also disrupted because of separate problems with engineering work.

The biggest rail workers’ union called on Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to resign because of the “Monday mayhem”, while the passengers watchdog said there should be a review of the problems uncovered by Network Rail’s work.

SWR has been hit by a spate of problems involving signal and points failures, while a long-running dispute over the role of guards on trains has also crippled services because of strikes.

Normally-packed commuter trains were cancelled, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded.

Train delays
Scenes at Clapham Junction railway station (@JackWTeague)

SWR and Network Rail apologised for the disruption, caused by over-running engineering works near Surbiton.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said: “The chaos into Waterloo this morning is just another example of the fragmentation and division on Britain’s privatised railways where‎ maintenance schedules and budgets are hacked to the bare bones while private operators like SWR are left with a free hand to rob the network blind in the name of profit.

“What we need is reintegration and a coherent system with all elements of the rail operation working together in one publicly-owned framework, with investment rather than exploitation as the watchword.

“While the crisis on our railways deepens, the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, is markedly absent while he ponders his self-interest and a possible resignation from the May Government. He should go, and he should go now.”

Latest statement regarding services between London Waterloo and Surbiton stations. pic.twitter.com/p8YjW6lob7

— Network Rail (@networkrail) November 19, 2018

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.

“A quick, thorough review of the problems uncovered in the engineering works and the passenger information put out should be carried out and published so that lessons can be learned. In the meantime, passengers should claim for compensation and make sure their voice is heard.”