Widespread power cut causes ‘apocalyptic’ rush-hour travel chaos
The Midlands, North West and North East were also affected after problems in London and the South East.
A large power cut has caused “apocalyptic” rush-hour scenes across England and Wales, with traffic lights down and trains coming to a standstill.
Nearly a million customers faced blackouts late on Friday afternoon after what the National Grid Electricity System Operator said were issues with two generators, which were now resolved.
Around 300,000 UK Power Networks customers were affected in London and the South East, a spokeswoman said and Western Power Distribution said around 500,000 people were affected in the Midlands, South West and Wales, with power restored to them all shortly after 6pm.
A spokeswoman for Northern Powergrid, which serves Yorkshire and the North East, said 110,000 of its customers lost power, while at least 26,000 people were without power in the North West of England, Electricity North West said.
Commuters by rail and road all face delays after trains were cancelled and traffic lights stopped working during rush hour, with the scene at Clapham Junction described by one commuter as “something out of an apocalyptic film”.
All services out of London King’s Cross are cancelled, and Thameslink trains are being held “at a stand” as British Transport Police confirmed they are assisting station staff and crowds.
A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “There was a power surge on the national grid this evening which means we lost power to all our signalling over a wide area, including the Newport, Gloucester, Ashford, Bristol, Eastbourne, Hastings, Three Bridges and Exeter areas.
“All trains were stopped while our back-up signalling system started up.”
Police in the capital could also be forced to man busy junctions after traffic lights failed.
A Transport for London spokeswoman said some traffic lights are “not working” but the scale of the problem is not yet known.
Police officers could be called in to “manage the busy junctions, to physically manage them themselves”, she said.
“We’re just assessing how many traffic signals are out.”
Due to a large scale National Grid failure there is a power cut in the London and South East areas, meaning that some traffic lights are down. Please be very cautious on the roads!— TfL Traffic News (@TfLTrafficNews) August 9, 2019
Harriet Jackson described an “apocalyptic” scene when she witnessed the power outage causing traffic lights to cut out on Northcote Road in Battersea, south London, after leaving Clapham Junction train station at around 5pm.
“(I) realised that nothing was open and there was hardly any phone signal,” the 26-year-old told PA.
“All the traffic lights were down, but there were no police present, which meant it was dangerous to cross – cars weren’t stopping either.
“It was like witnessing something out of an apocalyptic film.
“No one knew what was going on and, given it’s a Friday afternoon, it’s the last thing you want to encounter.”
Newcastle Airport was also plunged into darkness.
Scott McKenzie was travelling through Newcastle Airport when the power cut out for around 15 minutes, in what he was told by officials was “due to a wider problem in the region”.
“It was a bit worrying to start – more so because various alarms were going off and staff clearly didn’t quite know what was going on either,” the 31-year-old from Cardiff told PA.
“Some of the spaces in the airport have little daylight – we were literally plunged into darkness and people were using their phones as torches to see and get around.”
We are aware of some power issues at the airport and across the local area. We would like to assure all passengers that we are currently 100% operational with no disruption.— Newcastle Airport (@NCLairport) August 9, 2019
The Department for Transport confirmed they were working with Network Rail to reduce disruption.
Problems with power were first detected late on Friday afternoon, when UK Power Networks, who control power lines for London and the South East, and Western Power Distribution in Midlands, the South West and Wales both confirmed widespread outages.
UK Power Networks tweeted on Friday evening: “We’re aware of a power cut affecting large parts of London and South East.
“We believe this is due to a failure on National Grid’s network, which is affecting our customers.”
Western Power Distribution shared a similar message, and said they are in the process of restoring power to customers.