SOUTHEASTERN have blamed trapped passengers who forced open doors and walked on tracks back to London Bridge for causing further delays to last night's services.

The rail operator came under fire yet again for misleading thousands of commuters on social media yesterday evening.

A fire started in a signal box at London Bridge at around 4.45pm which led to signalling problems.

A number of lines travelling through the station were suspended and others delayed or subject to alterations.

The operator tweeted at around 6pm that signalling issues had been resolved and services 'should resume shortly'.

News Shopper:

Photo credit: @artworkmagnetic on Twitter

But as severe delays continued, the blame was shifted to Network Rail.

Southeastern hastily deleted the misleading tweet with no explanation - inflaming the wrath of commuters further.

A Southeastern spokesman told News Shopper: "The incident happened at the worse possible time (the start of the evening peak) and meant we and other train operators could not run trains into and out of London Bridge, Cannon Street and Charing Cross effectively shutting down over 50% of our services. 

"To make matters worse, those services which had departed a few minutes before the fire were trapped as the signalling failure meant they could not be directed onwards towards Kent and the London suburbs.

"Passengers on some of these trapped trains, wrongly took the decision to force the doors open and walk along the tracks back to London Bridge.

News Shopper:

"This meant that for safety reasons, the track current had to be isolated and resulted in further delay before services could be restored."

He added: "In terms of information to passengers, in the event of infrastructure failure, we are dependent on Network Rail for a realistic assessment of when the infrastructure will be restored and when we can run trains.  

"At approximately 6pm information was received from Network Rail that the signalling system had been restored and “hopefully” services could resume. 

"A tweet was put out on this basis.  This proved to be incorrect and the tweet was subsequently deleted."

But Daniel Bolden blasted the operator for its dishonesty and 'clueless station staff'.

News Shopper:

@DanielBolden on Twitter

Network Rail's route managing director for Kent, Fiona Taylor, said signalling was restored at 7pm.

She said: "Fire caused a complete loss of signalling in the London Bridge area during with severe disruption to train services.

"I would like to apologise to passengers who were caught up in the delays.

"We are investigating the cause of the fire and thank everyone for their patience."

If you faced issues getting home last night, apply for Delay Repay on the Southeastern website.