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Decade ends with more rail chaos as Thameslink trains unable to run through central London

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Rail travellers on the last day of the decade are encountering severe disruption in many parts of Britain. As hundreds of thousands of revellers converge on London for the New Year’s Eve celebrations, the main north-south line through the capital was temporarily closed due to a power failure at City Thameslink station. National Rail told…

Rail travellers on the last day of the decade are encountering severe disruption in many parts of Britain.

As hundreds of thousands of revellers converge on London for the New Year’s Eve celebrations, the main north-south line through the capital was temporarily closed due to a power failure at City Thameslink station.

National Rail told travellers: “Northbound Thameslink trains are currently unable to run through City Thameslink.”

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This affects travellers to and from Peterborough, Cambridge, Luton and Bedford.

Some trains have begun to run southbound, to Gatwick and other destinations in Sussex, Surrey and Kent, but cancellations, curtailments and delays are likely for several hours.

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Across at what is normally Britain’s busiest rail station, London Waterloo, the strike by members of the RMT union in a dispute over the role of guards is on its 31st day.

South Western Railway (SWR) has been operating an emergency about half the usual number of trains to destinations in southwest London, Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire and Dorset, with no services at all on some lines.

Normally SWR operates a wide range of extra services early on New Year’s Day, to carry passengers home from central London.

But the plans have been curtailed because of the strike, and only trains to Guildford and Basingstoke and circular services via Richmond and Kingston will run into the early hours.

Transport for London is providing free transport in the early hours of 1 January on the Tube and buses.

In northwest England, Northern Rail has made dozens of cancellations – mainly due to a shortage of train drivers, but also some because of train faults. 

Links between Blackpool and Manchester airport, Leeds and Sheffield, and Carlisle to Newcastle area among those affected.

Passengers will not be able to get much help from TransPennine Express, whose route network overlaps, because it has made many cancellations and curtailments “due to a shortage of train crew”.

The early-evening train from Edinburgh to Manchester airport will now start from Carlisle and end at Manchester Piccadilly.

Eurostar, which runs trains through the Channel Tunnel from London St Pancras to Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris, has now extended its new year cancellations until 8 January.

At present four trains between London and Paris are cancelled from 1 to 5 January 2020, and three trains for each of the following three days.

While none of its staff are involved, Eurostar is affected by the French national strike in protest against proposed pension reforms.

Rail workers have been striking for the past four weeks, affecting the number of trains that are permitted to run on the high-speed network.

Passengers can be transferred to alternative trains free of charge or receive a full refund.

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