Ipswich: How much does it cost to get one man off a roof? – the £1million bill to coax man from roof of Ipswich rail station
A seven-hour stand-off between an armed man, who refused to move from the roof of Ipswich’s train station, and the emergency services is expected to cost more than £1million.
It is thought around 10,000 rail passengers were affected by the incident, which began yesterday morning and delayed trains into the early evening.
The cost to rail operator Greater Anglia alone is estimated to run into several hundreds of thousands of pounds.
But when adding in the cost to the emergency services, lost productivity from people unable to get to work and general disruption to travel, the bill could top the £1m mark.
The 25-year-old man is understood to have climbed on to the roof of the railway station shortly before 8.20am after asking station staff for help in getting a ticket to Russia.
When police were alerted after the man was believed to be causing a nuisance, one eyewitness said he “bolted” onto the roof.
Firefighters and paramedics were also called to help assist officers from the British Transport Police and the Suffolk force.
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Power to the railway lines was turned off and the station was evacuated, affecting all services coming into and leaving Ipswich, which left hundreds of passengers in limbo and unable to get to work due to cancelled services and severe delays.
During negotiations with the man, it emerged he was carrying a retractable knife, which was seized by police when he dropped it.
A spokesman for Greater Anglia said staff advised passengers not to travel once it became clear the man was not going to leave the roof.
Those heading to the Latitude Festival in Henham Park were also caught up in the chaos, with Greater Anglia encouraging them not to travel by train due to the incident.
Comedian Mark Watson, who was due to appear at the arts festival, was among those affected by the delays. He was due to appear in the comedy arena at 5.15pm
The station is run by the train company – meaning they are liable to pay compensation to passengers unable to make journeys for which they had already purchased tickets.
Speaking during the height of the incident yesterday the spokesman said: “The incident is being managed by the police and we are in their hands.
“As operators of the station we are offering them assistance in an attempt to bring the incident to a close.”
He said the overhead power lines were switched off, preventing electric trains from running through the station.
The spokesman added: “Most of the regular commuters will have got to work before the incident began – but the disruption to everyone else has been very serious.”
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer was with a senior officer from BTP when the man eventually came down.
The town’s MP said he appreciated it was a difficult operation for the police and rail authorities. But he added he was concerned at the length of time it took to resolve the incident.
“This must have cost the economy of the region millions of pounds,” Mr Gummer added. “It cut Suffolk, and part of Norfolk, off from the rest of the country.
“I know this was a difficult incident to handle but everyone involved must look at what happened and ensure that this kind of situation never happens again.”
A BTP spokesman said: “BTP officers were called to Ipswich station following a report of a man on the roof of a station.
“Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service also attended the incident, and placed a ladder to allow the man to get down, which he refused.
“Officers also retrieved a retractable knife, which the man dropped.
“Police negotiators were called and spoke to the man for an extended period of time to encourage him to leave the roof safely, which would have allowed the station and lines to reopen more promptly.
“Specialist policing at heights officers were also deployed and, at 3.10pm, the 25-year-old man came down of his own accord via a ladder.”
Services resumed at around 3.20pm, but the knock-on effects were felt hours later.
A BTP spokesman said a 25-year- old Eastern European man was arrested on suspicion of obstructing trains with intent.
Last night he was being assessed at hospital.