COP26 travellers trying to get to Glasgow switch to flights after London Euston trains cancelled

311021 Hundreds of travellers were left stranded at London Euston after a fallen tree blocked tracks, PA
Hundreds of travellers were left stranded at London Euston after a fallen tree blocked tracks. Credit: PA

Travellers heading to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow have spoken of the "irony" of making the journey by plane after a fallen tree cancelled train services from London Euston.

One passenger said the "extreme weather" which caused the chaos "is a reminder that climate change drives extreme weather events and every country needs to adapt".

Hundreds of passengers hoping to travel to Glasgow for the start of the conference on Sunday were left waiting inside London’s Euston station after a fallen tree halted services.

Many were caught on slow moving or stationary trains, while others were forced to book domestic flights to reach the summit.

The COP27 climate conference - what you need to know

What is COP27? When and where will it be?

Each year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets at what is called the Conference of the Parties (abbreviated as COP) to discuss the world's progress on climate change and how to tackle it.

COP27 is the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties summit which will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from November 6-18.

Who is going?

Leaders of the 197 countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - a treaty that came into force in 1994 - are invited to the summit.

These are some of the world leaders that will be attending COP27:

  • UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is attending the conference, after initially saying he wouldn't as he was too busy focusing on the economy within his first weeks in office.

  • US President Joe Biden and his experienced climate envoy, John Kerry, will appear at the talks.

  • France President Emmanuel Macron will also be among the heads of state from around the world staying in Egypt.

King Charles III will not be attending COP27, despite being a staunch advocate for the environment. The decision was made jointly by Buckingham Palace and former prime minister Liz Truss.

Elsewhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will not attend the talks just as they decided to do for COP26.

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What is it hoping to achieve?

1. Ensure full implementation of the Paris Agreement and putting negotiations into concrete actions - included within this is the target of limiting global warming to well below 2C.

2. Cementing progress on the critical workstreams of mitigation, adaptation, finance and loss and damage, while stepping up finance notably to tackle the impacts of climate change.

3. Enhancing the delivery of the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the UN Climate Change process.

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An announcement just before 2pm revealed all train services had been suspended and the concourse was “exit only” due to overcrowding.

Mid-afternoon some trains began running on a diversion route, but Network Rail warned that fewer services would be running and would take longer.

Pictures on social media showed the concourse packed with people.

Climate change scientist Simon Lewis said he has been stuck on a train for more than three hours as a result of the disruption.

The 49-year-old professor, from University College London, was on the 11am service from London to Edinburgh but was brought to a halt just 45 minutes later.

“We are moving a tiny bit every now and again, but have not made it to Peterborough yet, the first stop,” he said.

“This is inconvenient and a reminder that climate change drives extreme weather events and every country needs to adapt."

He added: “A stopped train is nothing compared to the two million people displaced by flooding in Shanxi province in China, last month, and those facing famine today in Madagascar.”

Another passenger, David Johnson, said he and others on his train from London Euston to Glasgow were told to get off the train after half an hour of waiting.

Mr Johnson is attending COP26 as chief executive of the Margaret Pyke Trust, a UK-based international NGO focused on removing barriers to family planning as part of climate adaptation efforts.

Passengers at Euston station in London Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Needing to reach the summit, Mr Johnson decided to book a flight from Gatwick to Glasgow which, he said, “does, of course, seem ridiculous”.

“The irony of the climate impacting the trains, meaning a flight to the climate change conference is the only way to get there today, is not lost on me,” he said.

The original disruption came as a result of damage to overhead electrical wires between Rugby and Milton Keynes on the West Coast Main Line.

Network Rail said its teams are on site near Long Buckby in Northamptonshire, where the damage occurred.

The company said it is working to remove the fallen tree before assessing the damage and beginning repairs.

Travellers are advised not to go to Euston and instead check for regular updates.