Fury as train chaos strikes again

RAIL commuters spoke of their fury last night after enduring lengthy delays in the second night of travel chaos in just three days.Some rush-hour services between Suffolk and London, Liverpool Street were held up for four hours after track and overhead line problems near Chelmsford closed the route in both directions.

RAIL commuters spoke of their fury last night after enduring lengthy delays in the second night of travel chaos in just three days.

Some rush-hour services between Suffolk and London, Liverpool Street were held up for four hours after track and overhead line problems near Chelmsford closed the route in both directions.

Last night, commuters criticised the “shambolic” handling of the situation, claiming they were not being informed of developments.

But train operator One and Network Rail, who manage the route, defended their response to the incident, saying commuters were kept up-to-date and work to repair the faults was carried out as quickly as possible.


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Last night's problems followed similar delays on Wednesday, when commuters faced a five-hour hold-up following an overhead wire problem at Hatfield Peverel.

Jamie Norman, who was travelling to Manningtree, was one of many angry commuters last night.

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He said: “At London, Liverpool Street there was no indication of any problem.

“Then they were saying there were delays of 60 minutes, when we had already been delayed by more than 120 minutes.

“All we were being told is that they had no information, which is disgraceful. It's just not good enough.

“If One railways can't sort out the points and the overhead lines, the least they could do is give a semblance of information.”

Joannna Welton, 38, from Manningtree, said: “Everyone is still really tired from the delays the other night.

“I feel sorry for the staff because they're getting the abuse. There's no-one from One management on here. Depending on who you talk to, you get different information.

“I know it's not One who have caused the problem but you would've thought they would have a better contingency plan in place after the other evening.”

Commuters were being advised to take alternative routes, with many travelling via train to Stansted Airport and then catching a bus to Colchester. Others travelled via Cambridge or boarded buses between Shenfield and Chelmsford.

Mrs Welton, one of the hundreds who went via Stansted, said: “When we arrived there was not a single member of One staff and no buses. There were about 600 or 700 people so when the buses did arrive there was a free-for-all.”

Steve Longford's journey between London and Manningtree took nearly four hours, after spending time sitting on stationary trains and then getting a bus between Shenfield and Chelmsford.

The 44-year-old, from Mistley, said: “It's the same problem - a lack of communication. This is the second incident in a week. It's shambolic.”

The problems began at about 4pm when an overhead line came down, although one line was reopened by 7.30pm yesterday.

But later last night rail travellers were urged not to use the line until midday today as the disruption was expected to continue through the morning.

A spokesman for Network Rail said the cause of the incident is still unknown.

He said: “The overhead power lines, for some reason yet to be established, came down or were brought down by the 16.02 service from London, Liverpool Street to Clacton.

“What we don't know is whether it's a fault with the train or the overhead lines. I'm not sure whether it's the same problem as the other night.

“Until we know what the cause is, I really can't say what could've been done to prevent it, if anything. It couldn't have happened at a worse time - just at the start of the evening peak.”

A spokesman for One said updates were fed constantly to commuters.

He said: “All information comes from our central control centre in London and is sent out to frontline staff on a regular basis and is relayed to customers.

“The problem is we don't actually know how severe the problems are and also how long it's going to take to fix them.

“We do apologise to our customers. Incidents like this are very rare - it's just unfortunate there have been two within a week. We will be conducting an investigation into this incident with Network Rail to see if any lessons can be learned.”

mark.bulstrode@eadt.co.uk

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