Some Greater Anglia services restored – but Coffey calls for government intervention in rail crisis

Passenger trains have been restored to the Ipswich to Felixstowe line. Picture: HELEN BOTT

Passenger trains have been restored to the Ipswich to Felixstowe line. Picture: HELEN BOTT - Credit: Archant

Rural rail services in East Anglia have eased – but now Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey has asked for her cabinet colleague Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to intervene to try to improve things further.

One of the new Stadler Intercity trains on a test run at Ipswich station. There is still no timetabl

One of the new Stadler Intercity trains on a test run at Ipswich station. There is still no timetable for them to be introduced into public service. Picture; JOHN DAY - Credit: Archant

And as Greater Anglia focuses its attention on getting the rural services operating normally it seems increasingly unlikely that the new Intercity trains will enter passenger service before the end of the year.

There were cancellations on the Ipswich to Felixstowe branch early on Monday with passengers being bussed between the two towns, but trains were restored during the morning.

And there were some early cancellations on the East Suffolk Line between Lowestoft and Ipswich - although again a normal service came in during the morning rush hour.

A Greater Anglia spokeswoman said that trains on these lines, and on the Ipswich to Cambridge and Sudbury to Marks Tey routes should follow normal timetables.

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However there is still no word on when direct trains between Ipswich and Peterborough will be re-instated. Until that happens passengers will have to travel via either Cambridge or Norwich.

And she said there was no timetable for the introduction of the new Intercity trains: "We have not been told when they will be introduced. At present all our focus is on working to Network Rail to ensure our other services can operate normally."

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After the end of this week a special Christmas timetable comes into effect with some line closures over the last weekend in December - it would be a challenging time for the company to introduce new trains into normal service.

Greater Anglia is, however, aiming to introduce all its 10 12-car Intercity trains into service on the line between Ipswich, Norwich and London by the end of March next year.

The root cause of the problems over the last two weeks has been signalling issues, which engineers believe may be linked to the introduction of the new Swiss-built Stadler trains for rural and cross-country services.

Dr Coffey said: "I am extremely concerned about the recent catastrophic performance of Greater Anglia's newly introduced trains on the rail network in Suffolk. 

"After such significant investment and assurances about testing of every new train, the impact on constituents has led to their confidence in the rail system collapsing. This affects not just people getting to work but also young people getting to school and college."

She added: "I understand that Greater Anglia have set up a joint industry taskforce between the train manufacturer and Network Rail to try and find out what is going but this just isn't good enough - and I am worried about how Network Rail is handling this.

"We need a safe solution and fast. I have requested an urgent meeting with Network Rail and have asked the Transport Secretary to intervene."

Mark Budden, Network Rail Anglia Route Director and Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director have apologised for the issues saying: "We're very sorry for letting our passengers down and promise them we are determined to restore the good service they deserve as quickly as we can."

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