Passengers arriving at Snow Hill station in Birmingham yesterday spoke of their frustration following the disruption to their journeys from London to the city centre.

Having purchased tickets for the Virgin London Euston to Birmingham New Street service, many faced longer trips with Chiltern Railways.

John Hateley, a 64-year-old accountant from Codsall, in Staffordshire, and his wife Janet, booked first class Virgin tickets in advance.

But they were told to travel to Snow Hill station instead of New Street in a crammed standard carriage with very little space available for suitcases.

He said: "We would normally take the train from Wolverhampton so it has taken a bit longer. Chiltern just had to do what they could to accommodate people. The train was so solid with people and some had to stand up all the way from Marylebone to Moor Street as there was no trains running. But this causes so much annoyance and frustration. It is just a shame."

His wife, a 60-year-old retired administrator, said: "We booked first class Virgin tickets and there were no first class carriages.

"Fortunately we got to the train station in London early but there was nowhere for our cases on the train. We put them under our table. The lady next to me had to sit sideways because my case was where her legs were."

Keith Shackleton, aged 78, from Beaconsfield, Bucks, who worked on the Thunderbirds programme having been in the Royal Air Force with its creator Gerry Anderson, travelled to the city for a day trip to meet family members.

Like the Hateleys, he too faced heavy delays and diversions. "The train was on time until the 11.37am train, which was 11 minutes late and then it was 15 minutes late and then eventually it was cancelled and then the train company blamed everybody else but themselves," he said.