Widespread disruption hit trains across the South Wales network today, after a power surge knocked out both the internal power supply and the backup generator.
The surge happened at a Cardiff signal box in a central location at 7.20am. Without power, vital signalling points and level crossings were unable to function, bringing trains to a standstill.
Cardiff's rush hour travel was thrown into disarray as train passengers were left stranded and forced to find alternative transport. Replacement buses and coaches were transporting people to Newport where trains were still running.
Eryl Jones, press officer for Arriva Trains Wales, said: "What is so rare is that the backup generator was also knocked out."
Paul Tapley, Head of Marketing for Arriva, said: "We haven't experienced anything like this previously. It goes beyond routine problems."
Arriva Trains did not have a continguency plan to cope with this unexpected problem.
The signal box, which is maintained by Network Rail, was fixed by an engineer from Western Power, but not until the whole train schedule had been disrupted.
The problem had a knock-on effect on the timetable after trains began running again at about 11.45am.
Lucy Swiestowska, 22, a law student from Cathays who was stuck at Cardiff Central, said: "There are a couple of hundred people at the other side of the station waiting for replacement buses.
"I was told by station officials there would be no trains before midday. But they could at least get more replacement buses."
Some 300 people at Radyr, meanwhile, had to wait for more than an hour for a replacement bus service.
But when seven buses finally arrived, they had to remain on the main road because of the sheer number of people in the station, meaning those at the back of the queue got on first, sparking anger among people who had waited the longest.
James Clemas, a web developer at Cardiff University, said: "They were saying it was poorly organised and unacceptable. One guy was shouting. It was just frustration."
Many people who rely on trains to get to work were forced to take the day off. Proceedings at Cardiff Crown Court were disrupted as judges and members of the jury were unable to reach the city.
Mr Recorder P Murphy began one case by saying: "After all the trials and tribulations everyone has had getting here today, we are now ready to commence."
People missing work is not good for the local economy. David Russ, managing director at the Chamber of Commerce, said: “Any disruption to our economic life in Wales is unwelcome, particularly during a time of government cuts, VAT rises and fuel cost increases."
Arriva Trains Wales have issued an apology and will be offering compensation. Send your ticket to: Customer Relations Team, Arriva Trains Wales, Freepost RLTR-HBCR-LLTH, St Mary’s House, 47 Penarth Road, Cardiff, CF10 5DJ