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

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The transport secretary has faced calls to resign after hundreds of thousands of rail passengers faced travel chaos on Monday because engineering works over-ran.

Network Rail apologised for the disruption after some stations were forced to close and several services were cancelled.

South Western Railway (SWR) told passengers not to travel as none of its trains were running between London Waterloo – the UK’s busiest railway station – and Surbiton in the southwest of the capital.

Separate problems with engineering works saw Southern and Thameslink services also disrupted.

On its website later in the day, SWR said Network Rail had completed its work and all lines had reopened but warned passengers to expect delays and further cancellations until the end of the day due to the earlier disruption.

The operator has already been hit with a spate of issues involving signal and points failures and a long-running dispute over the role of guards on trains, which has seen strikes add to the disruption.

Mr Grayling's department said it 'shared the frustrations of passengers'
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The Department for Transport said it ‘shared the frustrations of passengers’

At 10.45am, 269 SWR trains – 75% of all its services – were cancelled or more than 30 minutes late, according to data from the rail information website trains.im.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union called for Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to resign over the “Monday mayhem” and the ongoing railway “crisis”.

The RMT union’s general secretary, Mick Cash, 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.

SWR told passengers not to travel as none of its trains were running between Surbiton and London Waterloo
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SWR services between Surbiton and Waterloo were cancelled earlier on Monday

“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.”

Passengers watchdog Transport Focus called for a review into the problems uncovered by Network Rail’s work.

Its chief executive Anthony Smith said: “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.



The timetable chaos during the Summer brought misery to tens of thousands of commuters




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September: Railways ‘no longer fit to meet today’s challenges’

“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.”

Mr Grayling’s department said it “shared the frustrations of passengers” trying to get into London.

“The disruption is unacceptable, and we are seeking an urgent explanation from Network Rail as to why their engineering works at Surbiton have overrun,” said a Department for Transport spokesman.

“In the meantime, we would urge passengers to check with their operator before attempting to travel.”

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