Death prompts train chaos for commuters

RAIL services to and from the capital were thrown into chaos yesterday after a man apparently killed himself by jumping in front of a train. The incident happened at about 2.

By Roddy Ashworth

RAIL services to and from the capital were thrown into chaos yesterday after a man apparently killed himself by jumping in front of a train.

The incident happened at about 2.15pm when the man reportedly jumped from the station platform at Witham and was struck by the Norwich to London service, operated by One.

British Transport Police closed the line in both directions and began an investigation, although they later confirmed the death was not being treated as suspicious.

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Immediately afterwards commuters were hit by delays lasting up to an hour-and-a-half although by 7.30pm services had returned to normal levels.

Rail operators arranged for buses to replace trains between Colchester and Chelmsford shortly after the accident with services on one of the two tracks running through the station opened in time for the peak period.

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A British Transport Police spokesman said: “We received a report shortly before 2.15pm when a person was struck and killed by a train on the London-bound platform at Witham Station.

“The train involved was the 13.00 service from Norwich to Liverpool Street service with 165 passengers on board.

“It was approaching the station at 100mph when a man jumped from the platform on to the track.

“The driver saw him and applied the emergency brakes but could not stop in time. The incident is not being treated as suspicious.

“The train came to a halt about a mile further past the station. The driver was shocked but did not need medical treatment.”

He said the train reversed into the station where the passengers changed to another service.

The line was transferred back to Network Rail at 3.30pm.

The man who died is thought to be a 43-year-old man from Ipswich but he has not yet been formally identified.

Last night, weary commuters at Ipswich station told of their nightmare journey home after services were severely delayed.

Chris Lewis, from Ipswich, was due to catch the 2.30pm train at London Liverpool Street, however this service was replaced by a later service.

The 24-year-old eventually got on the 3.30pm but did not arrive back in Ipswich until 5.45pm.

He said: “I was coming back from work to go to work again so it is pretty tedious. They said there had been a person killed on the line.”

Ivan Ward, from Ipswich, said it had taken him three-and-half hours to get back to Ipswich from London.

“It does happen quite a lot. There's not a lot you can do though if someone is killed on the line,” he said.

Another commuter, who did not want to be named, said his journey had been delayed by two hours.

He said train passengers were unhappy at the delays but many had experienced much longer delays in the past.

A spokesman for One said there had been a “knock-on effect” as the track had been closed for more than two hours.

He said: “Services were back to normal on the mainline from round about 7.30pm, with trains running in both directions.

“From about 6pm to 7.30pm commuters had delays of up to 45 minutes because unfortunately we did not get the line back until 4.30pm, so it is fair to say there was a significant impact on the first part of the evening which is unfortunate when people want to get out of London on a Friday.”

Those hit by the longest delays were the people trying to leave Liverpool Street straight after the accident.

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