Angry train users demand answers

ANGRY train users are demanding urgent answers from under-fire rail bosses after more than a week of disruption on the mainline to London.Both rail operator One and Network Rail have received severe criticism over the last seven days from passengers who are fed up with delays and poor service.

ANGRY train users are demanding urgent answers from under-fire rail bosses after more than a week of disruption on the mainline to London.

Both rail operator One and Network Rail have received severe criticism over the last seven days from passengers who are fed up with delays and poor service.

And the problems continued yesterday morning when a signal failure at Witham held up trains travelling to and from the capital for up to 40 minutes.

It ended a week of misery for rail users who last Wednesday and Friday had to endure delays of up to five hours because of overhead cable problems.

Last night David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, called for an overhaul of the way the mainline was managed while commuter groups urged One and Network Rail to ensure similar difficulties would not happen in the future.

Mr Ruffley said: “At the moment we don't have the rail links we deserve in Suffolk.

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“I am not calling for nationalisation but currently the maintenance of the track is the responsibility of Network Rail and the trains the responsibility of One.

“I firmly believe the two branches should be brought together under a single company as it would not only reduce confusion but also improve accountability.”

Trevor Garrod, chairman of East Suffolk Travellers Association, said: “To some extent One are the victims. I am not making excuses but they do depend on Network Rail for the maintenance of the line and when something like an overhead power wire goes wrong there is not a lot they can do.

“However it is important we have assurances from both parties that lessons are being learnt so there is better management in the future.”

Derek Langslow, regional board member for national body Passenger Focus, said Network Rail needed to invest more money and time into making sure the infrastructure was in top condition.

“It's not just a concern for passengers but also the container ports - especially Felixstowe - because it uses the line for freight trains and is key to the Suffolk economy,” he said.

Mr Langslow also emphasised the need for One to give out up to date information when services were running late so passengers knew exactly what was happening.

Derek Monnery, chairman of the Essex Rail Users Federation, said: “Many commuters are reaching the end of their patience, and who can blame them?

“These are people with responsible jobs in London, and need reliable transport to get them to and from work. These people put a lot of money into the local economy, and they will be forced to move to other areas if things don't improve very soon.”

Last week's problems, caused by overhead wire faults, continued into Saturday and were followed by more delays on Tuesday morning when a broken down train between Harold Wood and Brentwood left services up to an hour late.

On the same day an alarm indicating potential overhead wire problems went off on the 4.02pm London Liverpool Street to Clacton train at Ingatestone, causing delays of between 30 and 60 minutes.

Tim Yeo, Conservative MP for south Suffolk, has written to One, Network Rail and the Department for Transport demanding an urgent investigation into the disruption.

A spokesman for One said the company had been meeting with Network Rail and was pressing upon them the huge inconvenience the disruption had caused

“We are also seeking assurances the engineering work taking place to repair the damage will be the end of it and that two or three days later it will not cause further problems,” he said.

A Network Rail spokesperson said investigations were under way to establish the exact causes of the problems on the line and engineers were working round the clock to fix overhead lines and restore a reliable service.

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