A bolt of lightning struck Piccadilly station this morning leaving commuters across Greater Manchester facing travel misery.
The lightning struck the signalling system at around 6.45am and left the station with power disruption, bringing all trains to a halt.
Delays are being reported by numerous services including Virgin, Arriva Trains Wales, CrossCountry, First TransPennine Express, Northern Rail and East Midlands, with Network Rail predicting delays of at least an hour.
The incident occured as huge thunderstorms dotted Manchester’s skyline this morning.
Natasha David, who lives only a short walk from Manchester Piccadilly, said: “The thunder was so loud it woke me up terrified.
“I’ve never heard thunder and lightning like that around here. It set off a few car alarms down our street!”
Many commuters took to Twitter to voice their concerns at Northern Rail over the delays.
Yet the rail service tweeted: “It was a major strike, we cannot compromise on the safety of our customers and staff.”
LATEST UPDATE: Network rail have restored signalling at Manchester Piccadilly and trains are running again smoothly, with residual delays expected.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “Trains to and from Manchester Piccadilly are returning to normal. There will still be some delays of up to 45 minutes due to the disruption.”
Northern Rail have confirmed that trains are now back in service.
A spokesman said: “Full train movements are now possible at the station and we plan to introduce a normal train service with immediate effect. Services will take some time to recover, given both train and crew displacement.”
Only platforms nine and 14 are operational at present, with around one train an hour leaving the station, according to Northern Rail.
Some trains are being diverted to other Manchester stations and there is currently no estimate for when normal services will resume.
There are limited rail replacement servcies to Manchester Airport – while many holidaymakers face an agonising wait to see if they will make their flights.
First TransPennine Express passengers can use Metrolink on ‘reasonable’ routes.
Northern Rail are now accepting passengers from Virgin between Stoke and Manchester, as long as they have a valid Virgin train ticket.
London Midland are now also accepting Virgin passengers travelling to London, between Stoke-on-Trent and Euston.
Tickets dated for today’s travel on Virgin will be honoured for tomorrow, a spokesman confirmed.
Passengers are being advised to check their journeys before heading to the station.
Metrolink are also reporting problems with their routes after a lightning strike at the Queen’s Road signalling depot.
Commuters using trams on the Altrincham, Bury, Eccles, MediaCityUK and Droylsden lines are all expected to face disruption.
Picture courtesy of @MrJOwen, with thanks.