Thousands of soccer fans who travelled to south Wales for today’s Carling Cup final suffered huge delays because of a major signalling problem which held up services for hours.
Some fans who paid £200 for a first-class return from London to Cardiff had to stand for the entire journey and complained that food in the buffet car ran out within an hour of leaving London.
Many said they would be asking First Great Western for their money back, and it seemed that thousands of Chelsea and Arsenal fans would miss the start of the game at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium because of the chaos.
Arsenal fan Alan McLaughlin said his train left London at 9.30am and arrived in Cardiff shortly before 2.30pm – well over two and a half hours late.
“We were standing like cattle for the entire journey, which was just diabolical.
“The driver gave up trying to tell us what the problem was. There was a flood at Didcot which held us up for 30 minutes, and as soon as we got to Newport we simply ground to a halt and went nowhere for an hour.
“It is just as well they didn’t allow any alcohol on the train because people were getting very angry. I was on one of the early trains out of London as well, so other fans are bound to miss the start of the game.
“I think we should be demanding our money back.”
A spokesman for Network Rail said there had been a major signalling problem in the Newport area which will lead to delays lasting until tomorrow.
“We have been working since this morning to rectify the problem, and we will continue working throughout the day.
“We are hoping normal services will be resumed by tomorrow, but there will be delays today between Cardiff and London.”
Fans who drove to Cardiff were also delayed because of massive traffic jams from the M4 into the city centre.