Morning of misery for rail passengers

By Annie DavidsonCOMMUTERS faced a morning of misery after track work ran over schedule, causing hours of delays and cancelled services.Passengers using the Norwich to London Liverpool Street mainline were affected by the problems during yesterday morning's rush-hour.

By Annie Davidson

COMMUTERS faced a morning of misery after track work ran over schedule, causing hours of delays and cancelled services.

Passengers using the Norwich to London Liverpool Street mainline were affected by the problems during yesterday morning's rush-hour.

Work to replace the track between Chelmsford and Shenfield was being carried out on Sunday, but overran after some equipment broke down.


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The track was still closed in both directions until 7.45am yesterday, which meant train passengers had to take buses between Chelmsford and Shenfield.

Commuter Andrew Tiffin, from Colchester, said he had arrived at the town's North Station at just before 7am to find it in “chaos”.

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He added hundreds of people had crowded the platforms, while trains bound for Norwich were on the platform normally used by the London-bound trains.

Mr Tiffin, a project manager in London, said the 7.03am and 7.07am services had never arrived, but he had managed to board the 7.11am, which had standing room only.

At Chelmsford, passengers were told to get onto buses, but Mr Tiffin heard that services should resume at 8am, so he waited on a platform and managed to board a London train at 7.55am.

“I thought I might as well wait. They were stopping people from coming onto the platform as it was just so packed,” he said.

Mr Tiffin, 32, had to stand all the way into London and arrived at his office near Chancery Lane tube station at 9am, some 50 minutes later than usual.

“I think everyone was quite frustrated, but reluctantly having to just get on with it,” he said.

Another passenger Debbie Bell, 28, from Ipswich, said: “I was supposed to get the train at Ipswich station at 7.08am and I have got to get to Birmingham.

“I was meant to be there for 11am, but I won't get there until noon now. I'm past caring about it now and just want to get going.”

David Bigg, chairman of Witham and Braintree Rail Users' Association, said yesterday had been the fourth Monday in five weeks that there had been disruption at peak travel times.

He claimed one of the biggest problems had been not enough buses to transport commuters between Chelmsford and Shenfield.

“The problems were of a quite high order and had a knock-on effect on the roads,” said Mr Bigg.

Train operator One apologised for the delays and said the track work by Network Rail should have finished by yesterday morning, but had overran.

One public affairs manager Peter Meades said: “The work was finished and the line given back to us at 7.45am.

“The service recovered fairly quickly after that although there was a fair amount of delay and disruption up until 8am.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience caused by the overrunning engineering work this morning.

“A technical problem with our track-laying machine over the weekend meant that work was delayed by around four hours. The line into Liverpool Street was reopened for trains at 7.45am.

“The work undertaken at the weekend was part of a £12million track renewals programme between Shenfield and Chelmsford, which started last September.

“We are replacing nine miles of track, 5,500 sleepers and 60,000 tonnes of ballast on the heavily-used line, due to be completed in May. This will improve the reliability of the track and bring long-term benefits to passengers.”

Derek Monnery, chairman of Manningtree Rail Users' Association, called for back-up equipment to be available so that in similar circumstances the work could continue.

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk

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