Outage disrupts Polish trains as Ukrainian refugees head west

2 minute read

A man walks near railway tracks after crossing the border between Poland and Ukraine, after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Kroscienko, Poland, March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

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WARSAW, March 17 (Reuters) - Railways ground to a halt for much of the day across Poland on Thursday, disrupting an important means of transport for Ukrainian refugees after what authorities said was a traffic control system outage.

Trains started reporting problems around 4 a.m. (0300 GMT) and the outage affected more than 800 km (500 miles) of track, railway operator PKP PLK said.

Crews finished repairs by 6 p.m., it added in a statement. "Scheduled operation of trains is being resumed."

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Almost 2 million people have fled to Poland from Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24, and with free rail tickets on offer for refugees, the network has become a key means of transport for those travelling to stay with friends and family around the country.

Infrastructure Minister Andrzej Adamczyk said on Twitter the outage had affected about 80% of rail traffic in Poland.

He added that identical faults in the traffic control systems, which are produced by a unit of French train maker Alstom , had also appeared in India, Thailand, Peru, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands. Reuters was not immediately able to confirm this with Alstom.

Slawomir Cyza, the chief executive of Alstom in Poland, told Reuters by email earlier on Thursday that the outage had resulted from a data coding flaw and that passengers had not been at risk.

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Reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz, Karol Badohal and Piotr Lipinski, writing by Alan Charlish; Editing by Nick Macfie, Toby Chopra and Andrew Heavens

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