Commuters hit by rail chaos
OVERHEAD wire problems plunged rail travel in East Anglia into chaos last night - and commuters will face further misery today.Passengers were hit by cancellations and delays of up to two-and-a-half hours after more than a mile of overhead wires became damaged on the main line at Ingatestone.
By Danielle Nuttall
OVERHEAD wire problems plunged rail travel in East Anglia into chaos last night - and commuters will face further misery today.
Passengers were hit by cancellations and delays of up to two-and-a-half hours after more than a mile of overhead wires became damaged on the main line at Ingatestone.
The incident happened shortly before 3.30pm on the Ipswich-bound track and led to the closure of that line. It is not known how the damage occurred.
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Network Rail sent engineers to the scene to work on the problem but they are unlikely to be able to fix it until at least 4pm today.
All evening services to and from London were severely delayed last night and several trains were cancelled.
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And there was more bad news for train passengers after rail operator One confirmed it would be operating a “limited” service until the problem is fixed today.
It comes just weeks after Network Rail announced a multi-million pound investment scheme to improve the region's network - including £50m on renewing overhead lines between London and Chelmsford.
A spokesman for One said last night: “The line has been shut all evening. There were significant delays, averaging 90 minutes.
“The repairs required are extensive and significant and cannot be completed overnight because of the extent of the damage.
“That line is expected to be blocked until 4pm this afternoon as a result of which there will be a reduced service this morning.”
The spokesman said three trains would run per hour from Ipswich to London during this morning's peak period and one train per hour off-peak.
One hopes evening peak services tonight will return to normal.
“The size of the task is such that it cannot be completed overnight,” said the spokesman. “We still do not know what caused it at this stage.
“We have done everything we can to minimise the effects but clearly it has been a very disrupted journey home for everybody. We are working with Network Rail to minimise the impact.”
Weary commuters spoke of their fury last night at the long delays.
Rebecca Miller caught the 5.30pm service from London and did not arrive at Manningtree station until gone 8pm.
“It's absolutely shocking. The trains were packed to capacity. It was like a cattle train with people sitting on the floor,” she said.
“We kept getting up and rotating so people could sit down for half an hour. It was really awful.
“There were lots of extra stops but no-one got off people just got on. To top it all off there was a fault on the train at Marks Tey. I've missed an important appointment in Colchester this evening.
“It's appalling. The infrastructure should be in place. I don't want £10 compensation I want to get home on time.”
Michael West caught the 4.30pm service from Liverpool Street and was only pulling out of Colchester at 6.30pm.
“Yesterday on the same train, which I caught entirely by chance, I stood all the way because they had cancelled the train before,” he said.
“This was not because wires were down it was because the trains were not working. I dread to think what it's going to be like tomorrow.”
A spokeswoman for Network Rail said crews were trying to fix the problem.
“We do have one line open and we are able to get some trains through but it's likely there will be cancellations and delays and we apologise for that,” she said. “We are focused on getting things fixed as quickly as possible.”
Just over a week ago Network Rail announced plans to invest £150million into improving the region's network, which included new tracks, signalling improvements, new platforms and raised line speeds across the region.
And on Wednesday, further work was unveiled as part of Network Rail's 10-year investment strategy.
Trevor Garrod, chairman of the East Suffolk Travellers Association, said: “Network Rail has recognised the problem and quite clearly the sooner this investment they have announced takes effect the better.
“It's relatively old infrastructure. This emphasises the importance of the investment plan.”