AS rail commuters faced another nightmare day of delays and cancellations, train workers were about to be balloted for strikes in a row over the sacking of a colleague.
Journeys between Journeys between Yorkshire and London Kings Cross were being delayed by up to 80 minutes because of overhead wire problems. Buses were replacing trains “to ease passenger flow”.
And services between Leeds and Ilkley were cancelled while “safety checks” were made on the line. Trains on the line were restored at lunchtime but were followed by 45-minute delays to Harrogate services following “a problem at a level crossing”.
Network Rail said the problem on the east coast main line meant trains must “coast” under a section of the overhead equipment, without touching the wires.
The problems have been compounded by a power cut which has plunged Leeds station into darkness, with commuters reporting “surreal” scenes on the platforms.
Ticket machines, arrivals and departures boards and speakers are down, as are lifts and escalators.
Station staff are using torches in the “pitch black” conditions, according to passengers using Twitter.
Rob Hall wrote: “Leeds train station without power is like a zombie apocalpse” (sic).
Nick Rushfirth added: “It’s all very 28 Days Later.”
Shops in the station have been unable to stay open, although enterprising staff at W H Smith are understood to have set up a stall selling water and other essentials by torchlight.
A Northern Rail spokeswoman could not confirm when the power would be back on or what had caused the blackout.
“The power has been out since shortly before 9am,” she said.
“It isn’t affecting the signalling system so services are still operating.”
Meanwhile, members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at London Midland will vote on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action.
The union claimed its member James Crabtree, who worked as a revenue protection officer, was sacked for resisting an assault by a known troublemaker.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “London Midland display posters at their stations stipulating ‘We always prosecute those who intimidate and abuse or assault our staff’, yet the company has failed miserably in their duty of care and support towards James Crabtree.
“Instead of protecting him, the company has dismissed him in the most blatant travesty of workplace justice - siding instead with a known troublemaker who is the kind of menace who should be barred from our railways.”