London

Leaves on line cause London rail delays

An overcrowded Streatham Common station on Tuesday morning Image copyright Rebecca Crozier
Image caption An overcrowded Streatham Common station on Tuesday morning

Rail services running in and out of London have been seriously disrupted because of "leaf mulch" forming on the tracks, two operators have confirmed.

Southern Rail, serving south London, had substantial delays in the morning and evening rush hours because of leaves on the line.

Trains to and from Victoria and London Bridge were hit on Tuesday morning.

South West Trains reported similar problems on its London and Surrey branch lines.

Network Rail sent out additional staff and equipment to clear the lines.

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South West directed customers to a statement on its website, explaining that leaves form a coating on the line which "reduces the grip between the wheel and rail".

The company said drivers have to brake earlier when stopping at stations or signals.

Image copyright Lauren Farrow
Image caption There were queues to leave the station at London Bridge

Southern said its morning services had also been affected by two broken-down trains and an "operational incident" at Norwood Junction in south London.

Services from Uckfield, East Grinstead and Tattenham Corner to London Bridge and London Victoria were particularly badly affected.

'Extremely challenging'

It advised passengers to use Southeastern services between Tunbridge Wells and London, and Metrobus services between East Grinstead and Crawley.

Many commuters vented their frustrations on social media. Laurie Hooper tweeted: "Poor rail conditions!? It's not cold, it's not raining, it's not hot, it's not snowing, it's not very windy! Ridiculous."

Paul Jarvis was unimpressed with the explanation offered to him, tweeting: "Bank of excuses runs dry. Guard at East Croydon today says delay of 15 mins is due to 'rail problems'!"

A Southern spokesman said the morning had been "extremely challenging" and conditions had been "exceptionally poor".

He added: "We would like to apologise to our passengers."

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