LIGHTING engineers are investigating how one of the UK’s busiest railway stations was plunged into darkness last night when the main concourse luminaires failed.
Train services were disrupted when the lights went out at Paddington Station in London.
Unusually, the terminus – used by 40 million passengers annually – appears to have suffered a progressive collapse in illumination, with some platform lights extinguishing five minutes after previous ones.
Passenger safety was only ensured by spill illumination from signage, advertising and retail outlets, and the use of mobile phone torches by staff.
The black-out – which lasted from 10pm last night to 1.30am this morning – disrupted services yesterday and today, said Network Rail, the operator of the station. One effect was that arriving trains had to proceed extremely slowly into the platforms.
In a tweet, BBC journalist Patrick Jackson, who was at the station, described the mood among passengers and staff as ‘the spirit of blitz’. He was told that at one point that it had become ‘too dark’ to bring trains into the station at all. His train to Cardiff eventually left after a 20-minute delay.
‘It was pretty dark by the platforms,’ Jackson told a fellow BBC reporter. ‘It was a bit weird but there was no panic.
‘People just stood there waiting. They didn’t want to bring trains into the station in the dark but we saw two crawling in and we boarded about 20 minutes later.
‘The staff just turned on their torches and phones and were directing us towards the carriages.
Network Rail said that the station had remained open for overnight travellers.
‘We are telling passengers to check before they travel. We have got engineers on site to try to work out the cause and fix the problem’.
The incident will raise concerns about the provision of back-up power and emergency lighting systems at the station.
Paddington Station is London’s gateway to the west and south west of the UK, and connects the West of England and South Wales to the capital, serving major stations such as Reading, Oxford, Cardiff and Exeter.
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