Anger at rail works planned on derby day

RAIL bosses have been criticised by football fans for going ahead with engineering works between Colchester and Ipswich on the day the two teams face each other in the East Anglian derby.

RAIL bosses have been criticised by football fans for going ahead with engineering works between Colchester and Ipswich on the day the two teams face each other in the East Anglian derby.

Train companies last night defended the decision saying work schedules were drawn up before the fixtures were decided and could not be changed.

Network Rail will be closing the line between Colchester and Ipswich for major track renewal every weekend from this Saturday until January 21 - the day after the sides meet at Portman Road.

Although buses will replace trains between Colchester, Manningtree and Ipswich and there will be a shuttle service in operation between Manningtree and Harwich Town it will cause disruption for hundreds of fans expected to make the short trip by train.


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Jon Burns, chairman of Colchester United FC Supporters Association, said: “It's a definite pain because we will have more than 2,000 fans travelling to the game and a lot of them will get the train.

“We have a number of coaches we will be taking so fortunately I'm covered in that respect but I have a lot of friends who are going to get the train and they will be inconvenienced.

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“The closure will obviously pose a problem but we are in the hands of the rail company and can't do a lot about it.”

A spokesperson for Network Rail said it was unfortunate the derby game coincided with the engineering works.

“We carry out engineering works over weekends as this causes less disruption for passengers,” she said. “The works in question have been planned for more than eighteen months. The timescales to which Network Rail plan engineering means that we have no visibility of the football fixture list which is announced around a month prior to the season starting.

“At the time these works were scheduled there were no events in the diary which would have clashed. “We regret that we cannot simply reschedule these works which involve a lot of planning of resources and materials - it would cost a substantial amount of money which would need to come from the taxpayer.”

A spokesman for the region's train operator One said: “The works will see a non-stop bus service replace trains between Colchester and Ipswich with a journey time of 45 minutes.

“We are working closely with both Colchester United and Ipswich Town to ensure that supporters are informed in advance of the game and we are ensuring that enough buses are available to meet customers' requirements.”

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