Elizabeth Line commuters face day-long chaos as track faults hit key services

London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon among travellers venting frustration on X: 'An absolute nightmare commute'

Rail commuters suffered travel chaos on Thursday morning as several major west London routes were disrupted by a series of infrastructure failures.

Great Western Railway and Elizabeth Line services between London Paddington and Reading were forced to run at a reduced speed due to a broken rail, which was expected to cause delays throughout the day.

Commuters vented their frustration on social media, as the chaos sparked severe delays on the Elizabeth line.

Among them was London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, who wrote on X: "An absolute nightmare commute this morning.

"First train late due to late running freight train. 2nd train late as a result of the first. Elizabeth line problems mean jubilee busier than normal. Jubilee trains delayed due to an incident at Canning Town. Happy days!"

Others said their trains were left waiting outside Paddington "for nearly an hour" before moving, due to the issues. One X user named Nick, wrote: "On the Elizabeth line, once again reminded nothing ever works in this country".

Passenger Leigh Regan added: "TfL can you PLEASE sort out the Elizabeth line...these delays are happening too often".

Great Western Railway said the broken rail was discovered in the area around Hayes & Harlington station, west London, early on Wednesday, with Network Rail unable to carry out a full repair until Thursday night.

The defect was at a set of points used to transfer trains from one track to another.

It was the fourth damaged rail found on the Great Western line within eight days, the BBC reported.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “The 200+ miles of track between London Paddington and Didcot Parkway is one of the busiest railway corridors in the country, running more trains than ever before following the full opening of the Elizabeth line.    “Monitoring and maintaining this busy railway is a huge undertaking and safety is always our highest priority.  

“We proactively inspect all our track assets - with our measuring train scanning the track every month and teams going out to all key assets to inspect at least every 14 days. 

“When inspections identify that assets need to be repaired or replaced we work quickly to do so whilst continuing to run a safe railway for customers.”

Separate points failures were disrupting South Western Railway trains at London Waterloo – the UK’s busiest railway station – and Thameslink services between Sutton and Luton.

Thameslink was being prevented from running trains between Wimbledon and Sutton due to the fault between Wimbledon and Wimbledon Chase.

Network Rail engineers were at the scene to investigate what happened.

All lines were closed between Birmingham New Street and Longbridge because emergency services were dealing with an incident.

And a fault with the signalling system was disrupting trains between Nottingham and Worksop.

Ten days of industrial action by train drivers’ union Aslef starts on Friday and is expected to have a major impact on services.

A TfL spokesperson said on Thursday: “We sincerely apologise to customers who have been disrupted this week by a cracked Network Rail crossing that they are working to repair at Stockley Junction near Hayes & Harlington.

"Elizabeth line, Great Western Railway and freight trains are subject to a speed restriction through the area travelling to and from Reading until Network Rail can carry out a repair tonight. There were also signalling issues and a cracked rail earlier this week affecting trains to Heathrow following Network Rail upgrades over the weekend.

“A fault on a train at Paddington this morning caused further delays, but staff are working to restore a good service on the Elizabeth line as quickly as possible.”

A good service had been restored across the Elizabeth line by Thursday evening, TfL said.