THOUSANDS of train passengers faced travel chaos yesterday as a cable fault brought rail services on the region’s busiest line to a halt.
Commuters were stuck on trains on the East Coast Main Line for hours and many services between Edinburgh and London terminated at Newcastle Central Station as services were suspended north of the city yesterday morning.
Some northbound travellers said they had been waiting more than three hours at Newcastle for a replacement bus service to take them to Berwick whilst those trains that did operate were doing so with delays of more than two hours.
Bosses from Network Rail and East Coast Trains last night apologised for the disruption, which lasted for more than four hours.
It is not known what caused the problem which was discovered at around 7am yesterday when all services travelling between Newcastle and Berwick were suspended.
The cable fault around Heaton in Newcastle caused disruption for commuters and holidaymakers making the most of the half-term holidays, as engineers worked flat out to resolve the problem.
Passengers were told to get off the train at Newcastle and wait for a replacement bus service.
Stephen Mitchell, 22, and Luke Clayton, 18, who arrived at Central Station just after 6am, were still waiting for a bus at 9am. The pair, who are both in the army, were travelling to Edinburgh for work.
Mr Mitchell, who lives in Sunderland, said: “It’s an inconvenience to have to get the bus back up there. It will take us longer on the bus than it would on the train.
“We’ve been waiting since just after 6am and three of the trains that we were waiting for have all been cancelled. It’s going to be a really long day.
“We’ve rang our boss but they just told us that we had to keep them informed.”
Dr Craig Rose, 33, of North Shields, who owns a seaweed business, said he was worried he was going to miss a number of important meetings with clients in Glasgow.
He said: “I’m going to be really late for my meetings, which is really annoying. People are coming from all different places to meet me and I really don’t want to cancel. It’s going to cause problems for my business and I feel as though I’m wasting everybody else’s time.
“They told us that there had been a problem near Benwell and that we had to get off the train and get the bus up to Berwick.”
Other passengers who had boarded the train in Sheffield had planned to go to Edinburgh for a half-term holiday.
Full-time mother Laura Clay, 27, of Sheffield, was travelling with her three children Lily, five, Sophia, one, and Frankie, three months, when the train stopped at Newcastle.
She said: “We are going to Edinburgh for three days just for the holidays. I couldn’t believe it when I had to get off. We were told that we had to get off the train and onto a bus. It’s just a bad start to our holiday. It’s going to be so difficult on the bus with the three little ones.
A limited number of train services between Newcastle and Berwick were put back on before 9am but the full service resumed at around 11.40am.
Engineers managed to put a temporary system in place, while they worked to find and repair the faulty cable. Last night it was unknown whether or not the disruption was caused by cable thieves.
A spokeswoman for Network Rail said: “We are currently using a temporary system while we find out what has happened.
“We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused and the fault will be fixed as quickly as we can.”