Carlisle city centre was brought to a standstill after all trains north were cancelled and taxis ferried passengers into and out of the station.

Passengers were left stranded at the station for hours as they waited for alternative transport, with one man waiting for five hours for a taxi to take him north.

The problems on the West Coast Main Line were caused by a tree falling on overhead line equipment in Floriston, just south of Gretna, with no trains running between Carlisle and Lockerbie. Hundreds of taxi drivers were contacted by Virgin Trains to ferry passengers to their final destinations, many of which came from north of the border.

A queue of taxis - made up predominately of Glasgow companies - was backed up as far as The Crescent, while drivers tried to drop off passengers at Carlisle Train Station.

People were seen queuing through the station for replacement buses and taxis.

During the chaos, Virgin Trains confirmed that it was not possible for passengers to use the East Coast Main Line as an alternative route due to disruption caused by a person being hit by a train.

Transpennine Express and ScotRail services were also affected.

The taxis were bringing passengers from north of the border, before then taking passengers back to destinations such as Glasgow and Edinburgh, as part of an agreement with Virgin Trains. Local taxi drivers were also believed to have carried out similar journeys in reverse.Carlisle taxi driver Steve Farish, 47, said: “We can’t move because of all the taxis. They are taking work, our work.

“I have just been to Glasgow and I didn’t pick anyone up in Glasgow.”

A 73-year-old woman was waiting for hours for a replacement taxi.

Joan Musker, who lives near Chorley, commented: “We got on at Preston and we got stuck at Penrith for a long time. We then had to catch another train, but this (Carlisle) is as far as we can go.

“Our friends are from Malta and we arranged this trip by train to Edinburgh, staying overnight and going back home to Preston tomorrow, then sadly they have to fly back to Malta.

“It is a shame, we have been looking forward to it. We will get there, we have just lost half a day of sightseeing. We will have to cram in tomorrow.”

Experiencing similar problems were the Johnson and Walker families of Annan.

Janice Walker, 59, commented: “It is a shame. There is no one here from ScotRail, you have to rely on Virgin staff to keep us informed.”

Daughter Karen Walker, 31, who was eager to get home to put her 19 month and 15 month old babies to bed, said: “I don’t want to be standing for hours, I have got two kids. I want to get home to bath and bed.”

Claire Johnson, 37, said: “It is ridiculous. I was suppose to get my kids at three o’clock.”

A statement from Carlisle City Council said: “We are aware of the concerns and have spoken to officials at the railway station. They have arranged replacement transportation for the affected customers.

“This has included pre-booked and pre-paid taxi rides with operators from outside Carlisle. The vehicles are picking up on railway station-owned land and although we appreciate the frustration this has caused, they are not contravening any licensing laws.”

A spokesperson for Virgin Trains said: “Unfortunately due to the disruption today when the West Coast Main Line was closed we had to use replacement bus services and some taxis to transport people between Glasgow and Carlisle.

“We’re sorry this wasn’t the best journey but have tried to do everything we can to help people complete their journeys.”

Trains started to run shortly before 9pm, after disruption lasted most of the day.