THE heart of central London has been left without power by a water main that burst twice and flooded an electricity substation.

About 1,300 customers in The Strand, Kingsway and Aldwych - including the Royal Courts of Justice and hundreds of West End businesses - have been affected.

All sittings at the main building of the Royal Courts of Justice have been cancelled or moved elsewhere.

Dead traffic lights in the area caused jams on the roads in Holborn and Covent Garden.

The drama also left 30 properties without water while Thames Water repaired the damaged pipe in Great Queen Street, Holborn.

Burst twice

The power failure started at about 1am this morning when a burst water main filled an electricity substation in nearby Kemble Street with 15ft (5m) of water, a spokesman of the energy supplier EDF said.

By 10am Thames Water had repaired the five-inch diameter water pipe, but it burst for a second time shortly after.

Fire services were helping to pump out the water from the substation, while engineers worked through the night to reroute electricity.

They have also had to repair and test the flooded power equipment before being able to risk switching it back on.

"There has been significant damage to the electrical equipment, much which will have to be repaired or replaced," an EDF spokesman said.

By 4pm about 1,100 of the affected customers have had their power restored, while another 200 were still without energy.

"The remaining customers should have power restored this evening," the EDF spokesman said. The final reconnections depended on the repairs being successful.

Thames Water said it handed out bottled water to the 30 properties that had dry taps for the day.

"Water supply should be restored by the early evening," a spokesman said. "We apologise for the inconvenience this burst pipe has caused."

The power failure has not affected the running of the Tube, but has caused Temple and Holborn stations to close for most of the day. Both have since reopened.

  • Affected EDF customers can get more information about the power cut on 0800 028 0247.