Suffolk: Cable damage leads to rail ‘nightmare’
06:00 14 January 2013
HUNDREDS of rail passengers suffered severe delays over the weekend following a signalling problem on the London main line.
Among those affected was Nina Robinson, who arrived home in Rendlesham, near Woodbridge, almost four hours later than hoped.
The 64-year-old got to Liverpool Street station intending to take the 5.50pm train home following a day in the capital - but after learning of a fault on the line, her journey disintegrated into a series of hold-ups.
A signalling problem, caused by a damaged cable at Chadwell Heath on Saturday evening, led to alterations, cancellations and delays to Greater Anglia services.
Few trains were able to run through the affected area, meaning some passengers faced major disruption to their journeys.
The train operator apologised to customers, saying the problem proved greater than initially thought.
Ms Robinson was first advised to take a train to Ilford, from where she was told to board a bus bound for Romford and connect with a train to Shenfield. She said: “There were hundreds of us queuing on the pavement at Ilford. I waited an hour-and-a-quarter for a 45 minute bus ride to Romford, where six police officers were waiting to tell us the platform was overcrowded. I could see no staff outside.”
Ms Robinson decided to bypass Shenfield altogether and share a taxi, costing £65, with two other passengers to Chelmsford, where she picked up a train to Colchester and changed for Ipswich.
Arriving in Ipswich too late for the last train home, she was provided another taxi for the rest of her journey, finally arriving home at 11.30pm - almost four hours later than she had expected.
“The station manager at Ipswich was sensible and got us all in taxis” she said. “But it was the taxi driver who explained that it was procedure for the train company to pay for it.
“The whole experience has put me off taking the train to London. I’d rather drive and catch the tube, which is exactly what we’re being encouraged not to do.”
Another passenger, Robert Whitehouse, had a similarly problematic journey from Liverpool Street to Manningtree, leaving London at 6.15pm and arriving at 10.30pm. He said: “We were never given the full picture of what was happening. They could and should have provided more information but just suggested an alternative route and sent us on our way.
“There were a lot of people wondering around at Ilford with no idea what was going on.”
Greater Anglia apologised for the disruption and said customers delayed by half-an-hour or more would be entitled to some compensation. A spokeswoman added: “We worked closely with Network Rail to restore the normal service as quickly as possible, but we would like to apologise unreservedly for the inconvenience caused.
“We provided as much information for customers as possible, through a number of channels, but the extent of the problem proved to be greater than at first thought and the repairs necessary were more complex than initially envisaged.”
Network Rail said the problem was down to a damaged cable at Chadwell Heath, and that the damage was being investigated. A spokeswoman added: “We apologise to passengers who were affected. A reduced service was operated while the damage was located and a fix put in place.”
The disruption came just a day after industry figures showed that more trains were running on time to and from Liverpool Street on the Greater Anglia network,