London-bound sleeper passenger 'wakes up in wrong city'

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SleeperImage source, Serco
Image caption,
Passengers slept on a Caledonian Sleeper service bound for London without knowing it had been cancelled

A man who boarded a sleeper train bound for London snoozed all night while the service remained stationary in Glasgow.

Jim Metcalfe said he and other passengers essentially woke up in the wrong city - not knowing the train had been cancelled.

Direct journeys between the English capital and Scotland were scrapped due to heatwave damage, as the UK recorded its hottest day on Tuesday.

Network Rail said staff had worked through the night to make repairs.

Trains were cancelled across the UK as temperatures hit more than 40C (104F) for the first time.

The heatwave resulted in train tracks overheating and buckling, and overhead cables failing.

Meanwhile rail passengers headed for London faced long queues at Glasgow Central station on Wednesday morning.

Image caption,
There were long queues at Glasgow Central after direct trains to London were cancelled

Mr Metcalfe, a charity chief executive based in East Renfrewshire, hoped to travel to London for work on the Caledonian Sleeper service at 23:40 on Tuesday.

The 43-year-old uses the service occasionally through the year for business trips.

He told the BBC: "I can't sleep before it starts moving so I get on early and try to sleep first, so I got on at 22:30 and was asleep by 23:00. That was it really.

"There was a knock on the door at 05:00 and a guy very kindly appeared with a roll and sausage and coffee - he explained the train hadn't moved.

"We were told we had to get off because they needed the platform back. It was more surreal than anything else - I should have been 300 miles away."

Image source, Jim Metcalfe
Image caption,
Jim Metcalfe woke up to the view of Glasgow Central when he was expecting to be in London

Having checked the sleeper was still running before he travelled to Glasgow Central, Mr Metcalfe was initially frustrated by the situation - but praised rail staff for their handling of it.

He added: "I would say in a really difficult situation, the on board train staff were really calm and professional and handled it as best they could.

"I just went home, for me it was a minor inconvenience. But it is bringing home what is happening around the world on the climate emergency - it made it very real that you were experiencing this in real time."

Problems caused by the heatwave continued to affect the trains on Wednesday with London Euston passengers queued outside as well as inside Glasgow Central station.

The first direct service bound for London left Glasgow shortly before 13:00.

However, Network Rail - which manages the rail infrastructure such as tracks - urged passengers to check before they start their journeys and only travel if absolutely necessary.

Repair work is ongoing across the UK's rail network, and Network Rail said it had set up a new taskforce to investigate how the railway could become more resilient in the wake of the heatwave.

Some services resume

East coast rail operator LNER initially told passengers not to travel to or from London Kings Cross on Wednesday.

It later said some trains were expected to run as scheduled that afternoon.

Tickets for Wednesday will also be valid on Thursday and Friday, it added.

Media caption,

People hoping to travel from Scotland to England faced a long wait to start their journeys

Similarly, Avanti West Coast said it would accept tickets valid for Tuesday and Wednesday on Thursday and Friday.

An Avanti spokesperson said: "Train services are severely disrupted across our network as result of damage to the overhead wires at multiple locations due to yesterday's extreme heat. Network Rail is still at the sites carrying out repairs.

"Customers should make sure they check their journey before leaving for the station, and train tickets for yesterday and today will be valid for travel tomorrow. We're sorry for the inconvenience this will cause."

James Dean, Network Rail's west coast south route director, apologised to passengers affected by the disruption.

He added: "Specialist teams worked all night but have been unable to fix the cables in time for the start of service this morning. We're doing everything we can to get things back up and running.

"In the meantime, please check National Rail Enquiries before you set off on your journey as delays will continue today."