Vital de-icing trains were not used when the big freeze crippled north Kent's rail network – because they were being serviced.
Network Rail, which is responsible for maintaining the country’s tracks, had taken them out of action for repairs when heavy snow brought the borough and the rest of Kent to a standstill.
The two ‘ghost’ trains are designed to stop ice forming on conductor rails overnight but without them the freezing temperatures led to multiple cancellations and left passengers stuck at stations for hours.
Train bosses from Southeastern revealed the Network Rail blunder in a meeting held with angry Kent MPs, who demanded an explanation for the chaos during the bad weather. It’s not clear why the trains had not been serviced during warmer months.
The group also levelled criticism at Southeastern for its lack of communication with passengers during the cold snap and incorrect information about cancellations.
Southeastern has apologised for the chaos.
For the full story see this week's Gravesend Messenger, out Thursday.