One of the worst power cuts to hit Britain in years caused transport chaos across the country last night and hit the energy supplies of almost a million people.
Traffic lights stopped working, trains were cancelled, and stations were evacuated after a technical fault at two power generators run by National Grid triggered a ‘major incident’.
On Friday evening, there were reports that the problems may have been caused by issues at a gas-fired power station – and at a wind farm off the coast of Yorkshire.
‘What happened is a major offshore wind generation site and a gas turbine failed at the same time,’ Devrim Celal, of Upside Energy in London, a contractor with National Grid, was reported saying. ‘There was a significant shortage of generation, and that sudden drop created ripple effects across the country.’
Professor Tim Green, co-director of the Energy Futures Laboratory, Imperial College London, believes the two generators disconnected were at Little Barford in Bedfordshire and Hornsea in Yorkshire.
He said: ‘The first generator to disconnect was a gas fired plant at Little Barford at 16:58. Two minutes later Hornsea Offshore wind farm seems to have disconnected. This might be linked to disturbance caused by first generator failing; might not. We will need to wait for National Grid’s full technical investigation to get to bottom of that.’
Commuters described ‘apocalyptic’ scenes as they tried to make their way home during the evening rush-hour.
And nearly a million customers were left without electricity following the outage at around 5pm. Blackouts were reported in London and the South East, as well as the Midlands, South West, North East and the North West. The National Grid Electricity Operator took around two hours to resolve the issue.
The events immediately sparked speculation over the cause. Last night, the National Cyber Security Centre said there was, as yet, no evidence of hackers assaulting the power network.
Embarrassingly, Chancellor Sajid Javid visited National Grid bosses and trainees at its Eakring Training Centre, just hours before the power cut. The mayhem last night was at its worst on the transport network. Commuters travelling on the London underground and at Clapham Junction were plunged into darkness.
King’s Cross in London, one of Britain’s busiest stations, had to be evacuated and thousands of commuters were trapped on trains which were left stranded. All services were cancelled between London and Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough. At Newcastle airport, travellers looked on bemused as information screens went blank.
Tube passengers have been thrown into darkness on the Victoria Line, after a power cut hit large parts of the UK this afternoon
Customers were forced to finish their shopping in darkness as a Sainsbury’s store in Sydenham, south London was hit by the widespread power cut
A chef in Cornwall stands in the dark as machines and lights were switched off during the mass outage this evening. It has impacted the Fistral Beach Boardmasters surf competition
Commuters had to use the torches on their phones as they walked in complete darkness at Clapham Junction during a power cut
Large swathes of the country were affected by power cuts today including Bristol, Exeter and Newport. The capital was particularly badly affected, with the Victoria Line closed and King’s Cross evacuated
Traffic lights went dark at a busy junction on Northcote Road near Clapham Junction, south west London (pictured)
People walking in complete darkness at Clapham Junction station in London during a power cut
Commuters abandoned a train from Highbury and Islington, after a power outage caused it to stop on the tracks
Commuters are taken off a Thameslink train this afternoon following the power outage, which caused major disruption across the country
An office block in Newcastle was left in the dark as its electricity cut out during the power outage
There was darkness at a Debenhams in Cheshire following the power cut on Friday afternoon. The power was off across the entire Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet
King’s Cross Station in London was evacuated following the power cut and commuters were forbidden from passing through the ticket gates
The escalators at King’s Cross station stopped working following the power cut and commuters were prevented from entering the station
Embarrassingly, Chancellor Sajid Javid visited National Grid bosses and trainees at its Eakring Training Centre, just hours before the power cut
Hundreds of thousands of households and businesses, from the South East to the Lake District, also lost power for up to an hour from around 5pm.
One energy distributor, Northern Powergrid, said 110,000 of its customers in Yorkshire and the North East lost power. A spokesman said: ‘In all my years working here I have never seen [a power cut] so widespread and affecting so many areas of the country before.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘We are in contact with National Grid. The issue is now resolved.’
It came as:
- Passengers reportedly collapsed due to heat exhaustion after a Tube train got stuck near Oxford Circus
- Generators in Little Barford in Bedfordshire and Hornsea in Yorkshire were blamed for the major outage
- Ofgem demanded an urgent report from the National Grid following power cuts which lasted two hours
- Ipswich Hospital lost power for half an hour after its back-up generator failed with operations cancelled
- Reports of people ‘thrown off’ an escalator in Bradford due to the sudden loss of electricity in the area
- Outage was described as ‘apocalyptic’ by witness to traffic light outage in Clapham, south-west London
Energy watchdog Ofgem has demanded an urgent report from National Grid. It said on Friday night: ‘In any incident the priority is to get power restored to customers as quickly as possible. National Grid has now informed Ofgem that the system has been restored.
‘However, Ofgem understands the frustration this power cut has caused consumers. Ofgem has asked for an urgent detailed report from National Grid so we can understand what went wrong and decide what further steps need to be taken. This could include enforcement action.’
In London, commuters were plunged into darkness on the Victoria Line while traffic lights in Battersea lost power. All services out of London King’s Cross were cancelled, and Thameslink trains were held ‘at a stand’ as British Transport Police confirmed they were assisting station staff and crowds.
Passengers reportedly collapsed due to heat exhaustion after a Tube train got stuck between Oxford Circus and Green Park for 25 minutes.
Passengers were also left waiting on planes in Luton and Newcastle, with the former airport also affected by flooding this afternoon. In Ipswich, a hospital was left without power – as was St Mary’s in Paddington.
Elsewhere, in Derbyshire, homes were left entirely without power with one resident telling MailOnline of burglar alarms going off and police sirens in the area. Another said they feared missing their honeymoon due to the travel chaos.
Concerned residents reported power outages at their homes. One in Derbyshire told MailOnline: ‘Our whole estate had all the burglar alarms going off, and there were a few police sirens.’
In Bradford, there even reports that some people had been ‘thrown off’ and escalator which suddenly stopped due to an outage
People have been taking to Twitter to complain about the power outages (above and below), which caused delays of up to two hours for some commuters
Ticket barriers stopped working after a major power cut caused a loss of electricity across vast swathes of the country (pictured, at Clapham Junction in London)
People walking through Clapham Junction station in London during a power cut. Many appeared to emerge from darkness, following the loss of power at the station
The outage, which not only affected power at Clapham Junction (pictured), also caused traffic lights to go down and trains to come to a standstill
An empty shop in darkness at Clapham Junction station in London during a power cut, which has caused ‘apocalyptic’ rush-hour scenes across England and Wales
In Cheshire, a major power outage left people unable to purchase fuel at Tesco. And it even appeared as if the store was giving it away for free
A notice board at Clapham Junction in London ceased to function following the power cut, with passengers left waiting on the platform
Passengers at London’s King Cross were prevented from entering the station following a major power cut which affected large swathes of the country
A motorist gets out of his vehicle to direct traffic after a power cut in the area leads to traffic lights failing in Gateshead, near Newcastle this evening, following on from similar cuts in the south of England
UK Power Networks, who control power lines for London and the South East, and Western Power Distribution in Midlands, the South West and Wales both confirmed widespread outages (pictured, a motorist directing traffic in Gateshead, near Newcastle this evening)
There were delays and cancellations across the rail network this afternoon following the power outage, which affected large swathes of the country
Eric Anchorage is stuck on a plane at Luton Airport with his family following the power outage
Large swathes of the country were left affected by the outage, which included London and the south-east of England. Also affected was the Midlands and parts of south-west England
Social media is flooded with hilarious memes as the lights go out across the country
One million people have been affected by major blackouts after power cuts hit homes, airports, traffic lights and trains due to a ‘failure of the National Grid’.
Amid the chaos which plunged large swathes of the UK into darkness on Friday, people have been making light of what has otherwise been a frustrating experience for many.
Twitter users have flooded the internet with hilarious memes following the power outage.
In one side-splitting meme, a man called Brian Yim Lim said: ‘The UK is so broken that we’ve resorted to turning it off and on again. #powercut’.
There was no shortage of Lord of The Rings memes either, with one person sharing a picture of King Theoden uttering the words ‘You have no power here!’ from the 2002 film
The hilarious tweet has since gone viral, receiving 740 retweets and 2,200 likes.
Others took to sharing Simpson memes to convey the confusion and panic in the aftermath of the power outage.
One person shared a picture of Homer Simpson carrying a sign reading ‘The End is Near’ with the caption: ‘When the #PowerTrip hits the UK for 20 minutes or so… #powercut’.
A man called Daniel Smith shared a picture of Homer Simpson looking panicked while at work at his power plant station, with the caption: ‘Currently at the National grid #powercut’.
There was no shortage of Lord of The Rings memes either, with one person sharing a picture of King Theoden uttering the words ‘You have no power here!’ from the 2002 film.
One man drew attention to the food in his freezer, implying the power cut gave him a good excuse to eat all his ice lollies before they melted.
‘Got a power cut and all the neighbours are out buzzing about it .. like it amazing *winking face emoji* What about my fab ice lollies ? I believe I better start eating them.’
Amid the chaos which plunged large swathes of the UK into darkness on Friday, people have tried to make light of what has been a frustrating experience for many
Another person simply tweeted a picture of several cartoon pairs of eyes peering out from darkness.
One Twitter account shared a GIF of Hot Fuzz actor Simon Pegg clutching a pint, with the caption: ‘This #powercut appears to be hitting places across the UK. Time to head to the Winchester.’
Liam Kerridge from Newcastle Upon Tyne posted a hilarious meme of Phoebe from friends running around in a panic with the words ‘What do I do?’.
‘When the TV went off and I’m on 10% battery,’ he wrote.
While some worried about how they would charge their phones, one person had something else entirely on their mind.
‘#powercut causing chaos here in London, how on earth do I set the clocks on the ovens? #poweroutage #1stworldproblems,’ one man named Rikki tweeted.
Paul was struggling with a similar problem, and wrote on Twitter: ‘#powercut and the worst thing is when it comes back on having to reset all the clocks again.’
Claire Wynn, who runs a PR company, also told MailOnline: ‘We are heading off on our honeymoon in the morning on a holiday of a lifetime cruise with Royal Caribbean from Southampton and currently we are stuck on a train at Peterborough with several trains stuck ahead of us.
‘Another train has been told to get on our train as well so it is overfilled, hot and cramped.’
Harriet Jackson described an ‘apocalyptic’ scene when she witnessed the power outage causing traffic lights to cut out on Northcote Road in Battersea, London, after leaving Clapham Junction train station at around 5pm.
‘(I) realised that nothing was open and there was hardly any phone signal,’ the 26-year-old said.
‘All the traffic lights were down, but there were no police present, which meant it was dangerous to cross – cars weren’t stopping either.
‘It was like witnessing something out of an apocalyptic film.
Furious Britons slam nation’s ‘creaking infrastructure’ after major power cuts cause ‘total and utter chaos’ across the country
Those caught up in the chaos have been expressing their anger at the outage, with Catio Miles saying on Twitter: ‘I enjoy how the government speaks about rocket launching the economy when in fact the infrastructure is at breaking point.’
While another said: ‘Power cuts, leaking airports, train tracks that can’t handle hot weather, creaking tubes; there are banana republics that have better infrastructure.’
Farhana Begum, who was travelling to London St Pancras, said she’d ‘never experienced such disorder’ as the power cut.
She told MailOnline: ‘I arrived at London St Pancras today to absolute carnage, there was disorder and no one knew a thing other then an announcement every 20mins to say no trains were running due to a power fault.
‘There was scrams of passengers but only one East Midlands employee at the desk struggling to answer everyone’s questions.
‘I managed to grab a member of the transport police who told me to grab an Uber home and all costs will be reimbursed by East Midlands trains services if I had the correct information.
‘An Uber home from London to Bedford cost me £249.48 when a train ticket usually costs £16.55.
‘Absolute nightmare, as a frequent user of trains I can say I’ve never experienced such disorder.’
While Sarah Cure, who was stuck at King’s Cross, also told MailOnline: ‘Total and utter chaos and I will not be getting to my destination tonight.
‘I didn’t see anyone offering hotel rooms either. It’s a disgrace.’
Others on Twitter slammed the outage, with Daniella Piper saying: ‘Absolute nightmare trying to get back to London tonight from Edinburgh.
‘Travelling for over nine hours and then train terminated at Stevenage with no replacement buses or trains. Getting into the foetal position now.’
While others claimed the outage was a disgrace, with Michael Niven saying: ‘Boris Johnson and his brutal Tory regime are a national disgrace.
‘What you are experiencing is called a power cut. Probably caused by lack of investment by the national disgrace.’
Concerned residents reported power outages at their homes.
One in Derbyshire told MailOnline: ‘Our whole estate had all the burglar alarms going off, and there were a few police sirens.’
While Claire Wynn, who runs a PR company, also told MailOnline: ‘We are heading off on our honeymoon in the morning on a holiday of a lifetime cruise with Royal Caribbean from Southampton and currently we are stuck on a train at Peterborough with several trains stuck ahead of us.
‘Another train has been told to get on our train as well so it is overfilled, hot and cramped.’
‘No one knew what was going on and, given it’s a Friday afternoon, it’s the last thing you want to encounter.’
And at a Sainbury’s in London, people appeared to make off with free shopping, with an eye-witness saying: ‘No one knew what to do. The staff just asked everyone to abandon their trolleys and leave.
‘But with no security cameras or alarms, people were just leaving with all their shopping. Someone walked out with a hoover.’
In a tweet after the outage, the National Grid said: ‘We had an unexpected and unusual event, the loss of two generators that connect to the GB transmission system, which led to a fall in the frequency of the electricity system.
‘Even though these events are outside of our control, we have plans in place to respond and the system operated as planned by disconnecting an isolated portion of electricity demand.
‘We appreciate the inconvenience caused but this action allows the system to protect itself and limit the fall in frequency allowing for power to be quickly restored.’
Julian Leslie, head of national control for the National Grid, said: ‘The system need to protect itself and […] as the frequency was falling, the system could see this and unfortunately the way the system protects itself is by losing some demand.’
Elisabeth Braw, of the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said the UK should stress-test its reliance on electricity. ‘Whatever the cause is, the effect is essentially the same,’ she said. ‘Whether it’s nature or a hostile attack, it causes disruption.’
A back-up generator failed at Ipswich Hospital after the power cut, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The generator which was supposed to supply power to outpatient areas of the hospital did not work as expected.
‘There were some issues with regard to our outpatient areas and the generator that provides cover (to them),’ said a spokeswoman for East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust.
She said other generators ‘kicked in as was required’ and ‘patients were kept safe and cared for throughout’.
Passengers at King’s Cross Station in London were among those affected, with the station evacuated and commuters not allowed to enter through the ticket barriers.
One of those affected, Richard North, said: ‘Would be interesting to know who will compensate the £120 taxi or the fines for collecting children three hours late from two separate childcare providers.
‘Two children who were meant to be in bed an hour ago and we’re still in a taxi.’
UK Power Networks, Western Power Distribution in the Midlands and Northern Powergrid all reported outages – due to a failure on National Grid’s network.
Around 300,000 UK Power Networks customers were affected in London and the South East, a spokeswoman said and Western Power Distribution said around 500,000 people were affected in the Midlands, South West and Wales, with power restored to them all shortly after 6pm.
A spokeswoman for Northern Powergrid, which serves Yorkshire and the North East, said 110,000 of its customers lost power, while at least 26,000 people were without power in the North West of England, Electricity North West said.
Police have been drafted in to deal with the power cuts, which have stopped traffic lights in some areas of the country.
UK Power Networks tweeted on Friday evening: ‘We’re aware of a power cut affecting large parts of London and South East.
‘We believe this is due to a failure on National Grid’s network, which is affecting our customers.’
Western Power Distribution shared a similar message, and said they are in the process of restoring power to customers.
Commenting on the rail disruption, a Network Rail spokeswoman said: ‘There was a power surge on the national grid this evening which means we lost power to all our signalling over a wide area, including the Newport, Gloucester, Ashford, Bristol, Eastbourne, Hastings, Three Bridges and Exeter areas.
‘All trains were stopped while our back-up signalling system started up.’
Police in the capital could also be forced to man busy junctions after traffic lights failed.
A Transport for London spokeswoman said some traffic lights are ‘not working’ but the scale of the problem is not yet known.
Police officers could be called in to ‘manage the busy junctions, to physically manage them themselves’, she said.
‘We’re just assessing how many traffic signals are out.’
A train from Kentish Town to St Pancras in London stopped as a result of the power cut and commuters were told to leave the train and walk back to the station
Commuters on a train from Highbury and Islington in London were made to disembark their train and walk back to the station following a major power cut
People walking in complete darkness at Clapham Junction station in London during a power cut, which has caused ‘apocalyptic’ rush-hour scenes across England and Wales
People were prevented from entering King’s Cross station following a major power cut in the capital today. Other areas of the country were also affected
People lie down on the floor as they faced cancellations and delays following one of the worst power cuts to hit the country in years
Train services in and out of London, including Thameslink (pictured, passengers at the station), Southern and Gatwick Express are facing delays and cancellations
British Transport Police officers are assisting at train stations after power cuts caused widespread disruption (pictured, commuters caught up in the power cut chaos on Thameslink)
Huge queues gathered at St Pancras station this evening as information boards went blank
The Victoria Line has been closed following the power outage, with commuters pictured flooding out of the line
Passengers waiting for their trains were left staring at blank screens as the major power cut caused chaos across the country. British British Transport Police officers are assisting at stations
A Twitter user posted a darkened Clapham Junction railway station in south west London
Passengers wait for news at Peterborough station during travel disruption on the East Coast mainline, after a large power cut has caused ‘apocalyptic’ rush-hour scenes across England and Wale
Trains at St Pancras were held while power was restored to the station. There was travel chaos following the power outage this afternoon
Some have been making light of the power cut (above and below), which caused outages across the UK this afternoon
Elsewhere in the country, Cheshire Police said they were aware of a power cut in the Ellesmere Port area.
The drop in power also affected travel.
Train services in and out of London, including Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express were facing delays and cancellations.
Traffic lights in the capital were also experiencing some problems and the Victoria Line on the London Underground is suspended, Transport for London confirmed.
They tweeted on Friday evening warning people to be cautious when using the roads.
The Transport for London traffic news account said some traffic lights were out as a result of powercuts.
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It tweeted: ‘Due to a large scale National Grid failure there is a power cut in the London and South East areas, meaning that some traffic lights are down. Please be very cautious on the roads!’
British Transport Police officers are assisting at train stations after power cuts caused widespread disruption.
The force tweeted: ‘We currently have BTP officers assisting at several stations owing to current disruption caused by power issues.’
Elsewhere in the country, Cheshire Police tweeted: ‘We’re aware of a power outage in the Ellesmere Port area, including in Great Sutton and Little Sutton. Our call handlers are unable to assist, please contact your electricity provider for advice.’
Scott McKenzie was travelling through Newcastle Airport when the power cut out for around 15 minutes, in what he was told by officials was ‘due to a wider problem in the region’.
‘It was a bit worrying to start – more so because various alarms were going off and staff clearly didn’t quite know what was going on either,’ the 31-year-old from Cardiff said.
‘Some of the spaces in the airport have little daylight – we were literally plunged into darkness and people were using their phones as torches to see and get around.’
Mr McKenzie said the problem at the airport ‘seems to have been resolved’ and Newcastle Airport said it is aware of the power issues but flights have not been disrupted.
A queue at Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire during the power outage which affected large swathes of the country
Commuters were prevented from entering Euston station in London this afternoon after a power cut hit parts of the capital
There were reports of major delays across the rail network in London following the power outage this afternoon
Traffic lights in Cheadle Hulme, Greater Manchester, switched off during the power cut, causing a danger to those on the road during rush hour
Punters attending the Boardmasters surfing competition in Cornwall stand outside a cafe by Fistral Beach
Fans waiting for the Boardmasters surf festival sit outside on their mobiles despite phone networks going down in the power cut
Festival-goers at the Boadmasters were left at a loose end after the festival was cancelled and now restaurants and cafes have been hit by a major power cut
Devrim Celal, who manages works at a smart energy management system company, tweeted a graph showing how the power cut affected large swathes of the UK
A Govia Thameslink Railway spokeswoman said: ‘A wide scale failure of the power grid has brought many of our trains that use the overhead wires to a stand.
‘This is causing significant disruption to Thameslink and Great Northern trains.
‘Services may be cancelled, delayed or revised until the end of the day.
‘We have put in place alternative travel advice which is available on our website and National Rail Enquiries and on social media, and would urge passengers to check before they travel.
‘We are doing everything we can to keep passengers informed and get them moving again.’
Southern and Gatwick Express services were running.
London North Eastern Railway (LNER) said in a statement: ‘A number of trains have broken down between London and Stevenage. We suspect this has been caused by an electrical supply problem.
‘Grand Central, Hull Trains and LNER services to and from London Kings Cross may be cancelled or delayed by up to 60 minutes.
‘We don’t have an estimate yet for when the problem will be resolved, however disruption is expected to continue until at least 8pm.’
Problems with power were first detected late on Friday afternoon, when UK Power Networks, who control power lines for London and the South East, and Western Power Distribution in Midlands, the South West and Wales both confirmed widespread outages.
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