Major London rail hub suffers disruption

LONDON (AP) — Rail travel at Paddington — one of London’s busiest stations — was disrupted Wednesday after a train damaged overhead electrical wires, touching off a wave of cancellations that affected thousands.

Great Western Rail said the damage was caused by a Hitachi test train operating between London and Bristol. The train was not in passenger use, but the knock-on affects of fixing the problem caused issues for commuters and tourists alike. Some 90,000 people travel through Paddington daily.

“Some of the lines have reopened and a reduced train service is starting to operate into and out of London Paddington following last night’s incident with a test train, however delays are expected to last for at least the rest of the day,” the company said. “Customers are advised to only travel if necessary and check before travelling.”

Though some services were restored, travel was far from smooth, with passengers reporting overcrowded platforms, cancellations and general mayhem. Trains to London’s Heathrow Airport were among those affected, though by mid-afternoon a limited service had resumed.

Commuter Ava Farringdon, 29, a civil servant, said service had been poor in general since the introduction of new electric trains a year ago.

“Government needs to step in and sort this mess out. No one is held to account for poor service,” she said. “But they are very happy to hike the fares by 3.5 percent for a service that has literally dropped off a cliff edge.”

Among those whose plans were muddled were a group of tourists from New York, who found themselves stranded while trying to get to the southwestern city of Bath for a day trip.

“It’s frustrating- we wanted to just take one train and now we have to take three and it’s in a place we’re not familiar with,” said Hannah Bibighause, 26. She added that the chaos had delayed the group’s journey by at least two hours.

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