29/08/2003

Investigation under way after London blackout

An investigation is under way after a massive power failure in the national grid caused major transport disruption in central London last night.

The network failure at 6.20pm affected the majority of services in Central London when power to run trains and station lighting was cut.

The Tube network had to be evacuated, including some trains in tunnels between stations. All passengers were reported to have been safely escorted from the stranded trains.

Alternative sources of power were introduced from North London and the first line to restore service was the Central line at approximately 6.50pm. All services were back on line today.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone thanked all the staff who came to Londoners' aid during yesterday's blackout.

Mr Livingstone also paid tribute to staff on the transport system and emergency services for their "huge efforts in assisting people to get home, practically and providing advice".

The mayor said that he would be pushing the case for greater investment in the national grid and public services.

"There is currently a chronic under-investment in our public services, which are way behind other countries like France and Germany, and this is unacceptable," he said.

In a statement, the company which runs that network, National Grid Transco, said that alarms sounded at 6.20pm indicating a fault. The power was cut in that sector of the network which, it said, is a "normal procedure under the circumstances".

"This resulted in a significant power cut in the South of London as we isolated the fault. We re-routed our power system and had power back into the area affected by 19:00 hrs," the National Grid statement added.

Tim O’Toole, Managing Director of National Grid Transco, apologised for the "serious problems" caused by the power failure.

(gmcg)

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