A microwave oven brought Southern rail services to a standstill after it was thrown from a bridge on to the tracks near South Croydon station.

Angry commuters took to social media to vent their rage after yesterday’s 9.06pm service between London Bridge and Caterham was halted for 45 minutes.

Southern rail has since revealed how the kitchen appliance, which was reportedly on fire, caused delays to the service.

The driver of the train spotted someone dropping the microwave from a bridge onto the line ahead – tripping the power to the line.

A Southern spokesman said: “The microwave tripped the power to the line and Network Rail engineers were on site at 21.06 to examine the line and remove the object to allow line power to be recharged.

“This was done at 21.42 and the train was on the move again at 21.45. Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) were notified.”

"This was a worrying and potentially very dangerous act of mindless vandalism and we would urge anyone who can help in the criminal investigation to contact the British Transport Police."

One passenger on the train Tweeted: “I am genuinely stuck on my @SouthernRailUK train home due to a flaming microwave on the train outside Croydon!”

Another, Grant Vine, wrote: “Am sitting on a Caterham train at Sth Croydon, which has been halted by a microwave oven on fire on the live line #notoilet.”

The news follows word that Southern rail workers are to stage a fresh strike in its long-running staffing dispute.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are set to walk out for 24-hours on February 22 – threatening more travel disruption for the rail company’s 300,000 passengers.

A spokeswoman for British Transport Police (BTP) said officers are investigating the incident.

She said: " BTP officers were called to South Croydon railway station at around 8.50pm yesterday to reports that a train driver had seen someone throw something onto the railway, from a bridge.

"Fortunately nobody was injured as a result of this incident, but the action of this person throwing something onto the tracks could have had lethal consequences.

"We are investigating the incident as a crime of endangering railway passengers by placing something on the railway.

"If anyone saw or heard anything in the South Croydon station area last night relating to this incident, please call 0800 40 50 40 or text information to 61016, quoting reference number 535 16/2. "

Were you on the train that was halted due to a microwave on the tracks? Email sean.morrison@london.newsquest.co.uk