Passengers who were left trapped on a train in Lewisham for three hours took desperate measures, fleeing through emergency exits and walking along the live tracks.

Southeastern trains were held between stations due to frozen rails leaving the frustrated commuters stranded without water, lights or adequate toilet facilities while standing for hours.

Angry passengers turned to social media to express their dismay at the train operator's apparent in action. "Been on a train trying to get home for 3 hours now. 2 1/2 hours spent between #Lewisham and #Blackheath with hordes of ppl having jumped off @Se_Railway what exactly are you doing?

"You've been saying you're about to turn the power back on for about an hour now."

Another said: "Three-and-a-half hours now. No toilet, heating, lights. #TRAINMAGEDDON."

One passenger who had clearly had enough, opened the carriage doors and made their way on foot down the lines, prompting others to follow suit.

Fearing that the trespassers could be electrocuted or hit by an oncoming train, Network Rail was forced to turn the power off .

Warnings were issued calling on the passengers to remain on the trains as emergency services arrived at the scene to attempt to round them up.

Rail companies responded to complaints on social media by issuing warnings that the trespassers were endangering their lives by walking on the tracks and causing further delays.

Southeastern tweeted: "IMPORTANT! If you're on a stuck train outside a station and tempted to leave the train. DON'T! We won't run trains through the area until we know everyone is off the track - the more people on the track, the longer this will take. If you see someone about to do it, TELL THEM NOT TO!"

Network Rail said they had been working to resolve the problem of the frozen tracks and "hand clearing conductor rail to rescue two trapped trains at #Lewisham when our manager found people on the track".

"He had to turn the power off to stop the trespassers from being killed and now more trains are late. Please, stay on your trains. #Lewisham

"To be clear - power was off on two iced tracks. With passengers walking in the dark, now all tracks are shut after New Cross #Lewisham."

"We've had to turn the power off for safety reasons, and Southeastern staff are currently working closely with Network Rail and the police to clear the trespassers from the tracks so that we can get trains moving again.

"We completely understand that passengers on delayed and busy trains may be frustrated, but they simply must stay on the train for their own safety. These trespassers risk being electrocuted by the 'third' rail or hit by other trains. They're also causing significant further delay for other passengers that our staff are working hard to get home."

Power was back on shortly after 9.30pm, by which time some people had been waiting almost five hours.

A Southeastern spokesman said at 10.15pm that trains were moving again and would be running to their planned destinations, according to the Evening Standard.

"We're very sorry for the delay to their journeys," he added. "Any passengers delayed by 30 minutes or more as a result of this disruption, can claim Delay Repay compensation at double the normal value."

Disgruntled passengers described the situation in Lewisham as "madness."