UK Politics

Patrick McLoughlin: Christmas rail delays 'wholly unacceptable'

Patrick McLoughlin

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has apologised over "wholly unacceptable" rail disruption caused by over-running engineering work in London during the festive period.

Passengers faced severe delays at King's Cross and Paddington stations.

Finsbury Park station should "never" have been used as a replacement when King's Cross was closed, Mr McLoughlin told MPs.

He said Network Rail would be held to account for what had happened.

Two inquiries will be carried out, by Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation.

Network Rail, which is responsible for the UK's train network, has apologised.

'Warning signs'

Mr McLoughlin said rail operators had compensation schemes for those affected.

The King's Cross work, involving replacing sets of points, crossings, overhead wires and track, had been planned for Christmas "to limit the impact", Mr McLoughlin said.

However, "some elements of the work took longer than expected".

There were long queues at nearby Finsbury Park station, which passengers were advised to use instead.

Image copyright Steve Bird
Image copyright Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Image caption Travellers were locked out of Finsbury Park due to overcrowding

"Finsbury Park was never really an option to have main trains," Mr McLoughlin said.

The minister also paid tribute to the 11,000 engineers who carried out the work over the festive season.

Labour's transport spokesman Michael Dugher said ministers had "gone AWOL" during the disruption.

"These problems happened on the government's watch, the warning signs were there."

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne faces questioning from the Commons Transport Select Committee to explain what happened.

Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman said passengers had "suffered twice" because of the initial delays and a subsequent lack of information.

More on this story