THOUSANDS of commuters faced several hours of rail chaos due to signalling problems and a broken down train.
Passengers heading to London were stranded after the signal failure at 6.24am and the problems continued late into the night.
The entire Gatwick Express service ground to a fault while dozens of Southern and Thameslink services were also affected.
The disruption was salt in the wounds after train companies announced an inflation busting increase in fares earlier this week.
It was announced from January 2, fares will rise by an average of 3.4 per cent.
It is the sharpest rise since 2013, when fares increased by 3.9 per cent.
Politicians. unions and commuters all condemned the rise.
Commuters missed work and many missed their flights from Gatwick yesterday.
One Twitter user said: “Beyond disappointed with @GatwickExpress. All trains to Gatwick cancelled. Hailed a £100 taxi but still missed my flight. Huge costs incurred and a whole day of holiday ruined. Not the first time either, I expect some return.”
Vicky Cosstick, 66, from Seaford, was on the 6.06am train from Lewes to Gatwick from where she was due to fly out from to Belfast.
But her train was cancelled upon arriving at Three Bridges – just one stop short.
She said: “At least a dozen people on that train needed to get to Gatwick. We had no idea what was happening, so we got off the train and waited for a taxi. It could have been completely disastrous.”
She managed to catch her flight but said she did not expect to receive any compensation for the taxi ride.
She said: “They send apologies, you can get compensation but I say there is no compensation for missing a flight, a meeting or a funeral.
“The service is incredibly unreliable and they have no sense that they are responsible.”
The Uckfield and East Grinstead lines were also affected throughout the day, while some stations experienced technical difficulties on information screens, which showed incorrect information.
Shaun King, acting chief operating officer at Network Rail South East, said: “A fault with the power supply this morning meant we lost power to all our signalling over a wide area, including the Brighton Main Line north of Redhill, the Uckfield line and the East Grinstead line. All trains were stopped while the power was off between 6.24am and 7.01am.”
A spokeswoman for the UK Power Networks said: “A fault occurred on a piece of equipment at an electricity substation at 6.23am today. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
For more rail stories see theargus.co.uk.
Source: The Argus