Day two of rail commuter misery

FED up travellers were facing more delays and disruption today as work to repair a mile of damaged overhead cables on the Ipswich to Liverpool Street line continued.

Annie Davidson

FED up travellers were facing more delays and disruption today as work to repair a mile of damaged overhead cables on the Ipswich to Liverpool Street line continued.

The work was scheduled to finish tonight at 8pm meaning commuters faced two more trips with delays and cancellations following nightmare journeys on Monday night.

Network Rail, which is in charge of the track, had originally forecast that the work would finish at 3am tomorrow.


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Problems began when the overhead line between Shenfield and Chelmsford came down at about 6pm on Monday night.

Because a high speed train was using the line at the time, the damage extended to about a mile of the overhead wires.

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One train was stranded on the line at Ingatestone for nearly three hours with no air conditioning or access to toilets because of the electrical failure.

Yesterday reduced services ran all day because trains in both directions had to use the same section of track and angry commuters told of their long journeys home.

Jamie Norman, who commutes from Manningtree, called for Network Rail and train operator National Express to communicate better during such incidents.

Mr Norman, 50, who has been commuting for 20 years, said: “I think the key thing is that as irritating as incidents like last night are in terms of the overhead line being broken it is just made so much worse by the lack of communication.

“It is a journey that should normally take just over the hour but took four-and-a-half hours and for the great majority of that time no-one seemed to know what is happening - it beggars belief that in these days of mobile communications that no-one was able to give us any proper information.

“I think what all commuters would like to see is a proper collaboration between Network Rail and National Express so that their customers can at last be extended the courtesy of being told what is going on.”

Derek Monnery, chairman of Essex Rail Users' Federation, said he feared four more years of problems while Network Rail's programme to upgrade the line was carried out.

“It is a terrible thought and really we need some political pressure to get it done a lot quicker as it is disrupting people's lives - people's jobs rely on the trains but they are getting so unreliable you can't rely on them,” he said.

A spokesman for National Express East Anglia said: “We are doing everything we can to put through as many trains as possible.

“We will get trains through to London but they will be severely reduced in terms of numbers.

“We are very much in the hands of the engineers as to how quickly they can proceed with work.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said engineers from three depots were working to repair the line.

A speed limit of 40mph was imposed on the stretch affected and an investigation was under way into how the problem occurred.

“It could be vandalism, it could be the heat causing equipment to expand and sag, a problem with the overhead power line or even a problem with the train,” the spokesman added.

National Express East Anglia is likely to have to pay out thousands in compensation to those affected by the delays.

A spokesman said anyone affected by the problems is entitled to claim a refund up to the full cost of the ticket depending on how badly their journey was delayed.

Andrew Goodrum, business director, mainline, for National Express East Anglia said: 'I should like to apologise to our customers for the delays and disruption that affected mainline services on Monday evening, and for the continued reduced level of service.

“I am grateful for everyone's patience while Network Rail engineers proceed with the repair work.”

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