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West Norfolk rail link recovers from power cut chaos

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Rail passengers in West Norfolk can still use tickets today for journeys planned during Friday's widespread power failure.

More than a million people were estimated to have lost supply during the outage, which is believed to have been caused by the failure of two generators in the National Grid system.

While an investigation is now underway, the loss of power caused chaos on the transport network, with West Norfolk’s main train operator, Great Northern, saying it could not run any services at all north of London.

King's Lynn rail station (15065893)
King's Lynn rail station (15065893)

Passengers with tickets for travel on Friday have been able to use them over the weekend and may still be able to do so tomorrow.

The company is also inviting travellers to claim compensation both for the delays they endured and any additional costs incurred as a result.

Patrick Verwer, chief executive of Great Northern’s parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway, said technicians had to be brought in to restart trains and some stranded services had to be evacuated.

He said: “I understand this has been a very difficult evening for our customers and our staff.

“Our priority is to look after our customers. We put on as many buses as we can source, arranged for our tickets to be accepted by other transport providers and organised taxis wherever possible.

The problems come as rail campaigners here are preparing to renew their calls for the rail network to be brought back into public ownership.

A demonstration is set to take place outside Lynn’s station on Wednesday morning, organised by activists from the Lynn and District Trades Council and Labour party branches.

They say franchises should be nationalised when their current contracts expire and point to the example of the East Coast Main Line, which has gone back into public hands on three separate occasions following the failure of private operators, as an example of what can be achieved.

Campaign co-ordinator Jo Rust said: “Commuters and travellers face ever increasing fares combined with a service which can be cancelled at any time for a variety of reasons, whether it’s overhead line failure, driver illness or bad weather.

“Those who use the rail service have to get to work and employers are increasingly using sanctions on workers who are late through no fault of their own.

“We believe the only way to improve the service is to bring each franchise back into national hands as they come up, one by one. We know it works because East Coast was such a huge success.”

The protest also comes ahead of the announcement of July’s inflation figure, on which the annual round of rail fare increases in January is based.

Rail operators say 97 per cent of ticket income is reinvested in the network.

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