STAFFING and maintenance cuts were blamed yesterday for massive delays to main line and Tube trains yesterday.
Commuters endured a difficult return to work with morning rush-hour delays, including on the busy London to Scotland East Coast line.
This was due to overhead wire problems at Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire and affected not only East Coast passengers but those travelling with First Capital Connect, First Hull Trains and Grand Central.
Repairs have now been completed but passengers were warned to expect disruption until 10am.
There were also hold-ups for passengers in East Anglia due to over-running engineering works at Ipswich. Services between Ipswich and Felixstowe were suspended for a time and a limited bus service ran between between Stowmarket and Ipswich.
On the London Underground, there were severe rush-hour delays on the Northern line due to earlier engineering work.
RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said the union “has been warning for years that cuts to staffing and maintenance on the overhead lines have left them as a weak link in our rail infrastructure with a massive backlog of works allowed to build up.
“Those warnings have been ignored and last night and this morning passengers have been left to pay the price. It was only due to the hard work of our members throughout the night that services are now coming back on stream.
“The issue of cuts on our railways has once again been thrown under the spotlight this morning and the government cannot ignore that reality as they line up more reductions in the Network Rail maintenance and renewals budgets. Those cuts, and the attack on jobs, must be reversed.”
He said the solution was obvious — “clear the maintenance and renewals backlog, halt the cuts and employ more staff or we will see this morning’s transport chaos on rail and Tube repeated throughout the autumn and winter.”
Network Rail confirmed that engineers worked through the night to repair the damage at Huntingdon.
He said: “As anticipated, there has been some further disruption at the start of today’s East Coast services. However, while trains are now gradually returning to normal, some services may continue to be restricted, and subject to short-term amendment or cancellation.”