Cancelled trains cause travel chaos ahead of COP26 climate summit

Train services were cancelled from London Euston to Glasgow and passengers were advised to avoid all non-essential travel as travel chaos overshadowed arrivals on the eve of the COP26 climate summit.

With all eyes on Britain as host of the global climate talks, thousands of delegates saw their journeys curtailed because of storm damage in England’s Midlands region, thought to have been caused by fallen trees during weekend storms.

Among those caught in the large crowds stuck at the central London stations of Euston and King’s Cross was Lord Zac Goldsmith, the environment secretary, who was trying to make his way to Glasgow for the summit.

Winds reached gusts of more than 60mph after an area of low pressure from the Atlantic delivered storms across the country, with yellow weather warnings still in place for the West Country on Sunday.

The Met Office said it was possible that there were some “localised” tornadoes, given the extent of damage caused over the weekend.

With no imminent end in sight for the disruption, some delegates raced to find alternative ways of getting to Glasgow, including flights and hire cars.

A spokesman for Avanti, which operates the direct line from Euston to Glasgow, said “a tree or some objects” had disrupted the electric cables on the line not far from Milton Keynes.

“Nothing is getting through on that stretch. Everything out of Euston is caught up because of that blockage,” he said. “We are experiencing extreme disruption. Our advice is do not travel.”

Engineers from Network Rail were on the site assessing the damage in order to make preliminary repairs, the company said. “There are no trains heading north. Everything is blocked between Euston and Rugby.” Asked how many travellers would be hit by the disruption, he said: “It’s going to be a lot of people. We have a lot of busy trains today . . . because of COP26.”

LNER, which runs the East Coast Mainline service from London to Edinburgh, an alternative route to Glasgow, also advised people not to travel because of damage to overhead electric wires at Peterborough.

“Network Rail are on site and expect to be able to reopen the lines soon,” it said. “Services will be very busy when they resume and will remain subject to disruption for the rest of the day. We continue to advise you not to travel.”

The transport disruption is the latest domestic issue to hit the COP26 summit in Glasgow, where the UK government hopes to persuade countries from around the world to commit to new environmental targets.

The GMB union on Friday put on hold a threatened strike by refuse collectors while its members considered a new pay offer. A separate strike by rail workers was cancelled earlier in the week, to the deep relief of COP26 planners.

But in recent weeks there has also been attention on the shortage of accommodation for COP26 participants, with some Glasgow landlords increasing prices even for people who booked well in advance.

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