Travel agents were called into action at the weekend after rail travel to and from London was hit by overrunning engineering works.

The problems saw all services into and out of Kings Cross cancelled on Saturday following two consecutive bank holidays for Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

And similar problems at Paddington saw it closed for much of the day severely disrupting travel into London from the west and northwest.

Network Rail is under pressure to explain why engineering works overran and faces multi-million pound fines after many passengers were left stranded in suburban rail stations.

Westoe Travel in South Shields, which specialises in London breaks, had 22 passengers due to travel to London both on city breaks and standard rail travel.

Owner Graeme Brett said: “We have an emergency procedure in such circumstances which involves staff coming into work and working from home to contact all affected customers with up to date information, and to keep our social media updated.

“We contacted all customers to advise them of the problem and then updated them with amended timetable information.

“We tried to make new seat reservations for customers but the National Rail System would not allow any bookings.

“Then just before midnight we found that they had amended the timetable again so we had to text all of the customers with the new times.

“We did have difficulty getting information due to the late notification of the closure of Kings Cross and the fact that Boxing Day is not a normal operating day for the rail companies.

“One of our travelling parties had a disabled passenger who needed assistance with travel. Most of the time we had to rely on twitter and social media for updates.

“Our customers were very grateful that our staff had sacrificed part of their Boxing Day to assist them.”