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'Torrid time' for rail commuters in Suffolk and Essex amid 43% rise in signal failures

PUBLISHED: 18:05 31 May 2018

Network Rail  says it is working to improve infrastructure (stock image) Picture: NETWORK RAIL

Network Rail says it is working to improve infrastructure (stock image) Picture: NETWORK RAIL

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Rail campaigners have highlighted "fundamental" failures on the region's network after new figures showed a 43% increase in the number of signal faults on the region's mainline.

Derek Monnery says commuters have had a torrid time Picture: SU ANDERSONDerek Monnery says commuters have had a torrid time Picture: SU ANDERSON

Figures released by Network Rail, following a Freedom of Information request, showed the total number of faults on six lines in the Anglia region increased from 192 in 2015 to 219 last year.

While some lines improved during the period, the Great Eastern Mainline showed a marked deterioration.

Signal faults on the line, which runs between London to Norwich, increased from 51-73, while overall faults had risen from 118-139.

Network Rail defended its record, saying it made “significant progress” on infrastructure.

Witham MP Priti Patel is pushing for infrastructure improvements Picture:  DAVID MIZEROF/PAWitham MP Priti Patel is pushing for infrastructure improvements Picture: DAVID MIZEROF/PA

However Derek Monnery, of the Manningtree Rail Users Association, said passengers on the mainline, which also calls at Ipswich, Colchester and Stowmarket, had a “torrid time” contending with repeated failures, “They are far too frequent and keep shutting down the network,” he added. “Something is fundamentally wrong.”

Witham MP Priti Patel, who chairs the Great Eastern Mainline Taskforce, said it would continue pressing for improvements – such as the Haughley junction. “These improvements will help in the long term,” she said. “But we are dealing with an infrastructure that has suffered from a lack of investment for decades are now having to catch up. This is not helping the commuters in the short term who hare paying over the odds for their service.”

Network Rail said it operated 200,000 more services in the region than in 2010, with 90% of trains running on time, adding that it was working to increase capacity and prepare for the new fleet of Greater Anglia trains from 2019.

“Our Railway Upgrade Plan has made significant progress to begin to reverse the decades of under investment in the railway since the 1950s and we will continue to strive to improve reliability of our infrastructure to increase performance for passengers,” a spokesman said.

Greater Anglia, which operates services on the network but is not responsible for its upkeep, said it worked closely with Network Rail to get services moving quickly when disruption occurred. “We know how frustrating delays are to our customers, which is why we are constantly improving the way we react when things go wrong,” a spokesman added.

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