Hopes that rail service will be restored

RAIL bosses hope they will have restored train services on the East Anglian mainline to normal this morning after another day of chaos on the tracks.

RAIL bosses hope they will have restored train services on the East Anglian mainline to normal this morning after another day of chaos on the tracks.

Passengers in Suffolk and Essex endured a further day of disruption yesterday after a serious accident that left three workers injured as they tried to repair damaged overhead power lines between Shenfield and Chelmsford.

The accident happened when a cherry picker, which was holding two men, crashed to the ground, hitting a third worker.

All services between the two stations were suspended for an hour-and-a-half while emergency services tended to the injured workers and the accident was investigated. Two of the men were being treated for serious injuries last night, although they were not thought to be life-threatening.

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An emergency timetable had already been running, using just a single track, after the power lines were damaged on Monday. The repair work was due to finish last night but the accident caused the work to stop and, while the line reopened by about 3.30pm, it had severe repercussions on the evening rush hour.

After safety inspectors cleared the site for repair work to continue last night, Network Rail said it hoped to have repairs finished early in the morning in time to prevent a fourth day of nightmare journeys.

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“We hope to have the job finished by 6am on Thursday - that is the plan now,” said a spokesman last night.

He said the “freak accident” involved a cherry picker falling 15ft to the ground. None of the men had sustained life-threatening injuries, although two were last night being treated for serious injuries in the Queen's Hospital, Romford.

One engineer had to be air-lifted to hospital after sustaining head, chest and neck injuries that required him to be strapped to a spinal board.

For the second time in three days, passengers were left stranded on the tracks in their trains in very hot conditions. They were given free water by train workers while they listened out for further information.

National Express East Anglia said trains were running again by 3.30pm but the standstill caused major disruption to evening services, resulting in British Transport Police despatching officers to cope with the huge crowds that had built up at stations in and around London Liverpool Street.

Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs for National Express East Anglia, said last night: “The expectation at this stage is that we will be able to run a normal service on Thursday.

“We will return to a normal timetable, though it is possible some of the trains will have slightly fewer carriages because some of the trains that were damaged in the incident on Monday have been so severely damaged it is not something that could be completed overnight. It is more likely to affect passengers in Colchester than Ipswich though.”

He added there was still a “slight risk” that the works would over-run into the morning rush hour, leaving them to continue the reduced timetable for a fourth consecutive day.

The problems on the railways began on Monday, when a train brought down a mile-long stretch of overhead power lines at Ingatestone.

An emergency, reduced service was in operation all day yesterday while the workers attempted to restore power.

Network Rail said it was investigating yesterday's accident with the police and the Railway Accident Investigation branch.

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