Gnawing rodents blamed for rail outages

Feb. 3, 2010 at 8:26 PM
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LONDON, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Recent breakdowns in British rail service have been caused by rats and mice cutting through cables, officials say.

In one case, a hole made by a rodent in a high-voltage power cable in Cheshire last month has been blamed for an outage that delayed 99 trains on the West Coast mainline and led to the cancellation of 20 runs, The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

Another exceptionally ill-timed outage between Preston and Lancaster caused the cancellation of 107 trains and delayed 289. A special train for Carlisle United fans traveling to a cup match against Everton was among those canceled.

A Network Rail spokesman said laying steel-armored replacement cable along 20,000 miles of track is expected to take two years and cost millions of pounds.

Eric Martlew, who represents Carlisle in Parliament, was one of the many soccer fans delayed Jan. 2.

"It's a nonsense that the whole of the West Coast mainline could have been brought to a standstill by a mouse," Martlew said. "The point is it should never have happened -- the wires should have been protected and mighty mouse shouldn't have been allowed to stop Carlisle United fans in their tracks in this way."

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