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Rail chaos on East Anglian line

PUBLISHED: 21:58 28 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:22 24 February 2010

RAIL commuters faced travel chaos last night when the mainline between Ipswich and London was closed after an overhead power line was brought down by a train.

RAIL commuters faced travel chaos last night when the mainline between Ipswich and London was closed after an overhead power line was brought down by a train.

The incident occurred at about 4.45pm when an Anglia Railways train became disconnected from its pantograph, the equipment which connects the engine to the power cables, and brought down a section of overhead wires.

Trains were unable to run because the cables remained on the track and the stricken engine remained on the northbound line into the evening.

Passengers had to board buses to complete their journeys and services were due to partially re-start on one line at about 8pm.

The incident occurred between Colchester and Manningtree, and forced a total closure of services as far south as Witham. Trains to and from London Liverpool Street were severely delayed.

David Bigg , chairman of the Braintree and Witham rail users group, was among those delayed as he headed home to Witham.

He said: "It is disastrous out there tonight. There were literally hundreds, verging on a thousand people who were stuck at Witham station as they waited for buses.

"It was chaotic, but it was being taken well by the majority of passengers as there was a good deal of information available at Liverpool Street and from the train drivers.

"It is wet, it is raining and it is not a good start to the weekend - but I was one of the luckier ones as the people going to Ipswich and Norwich are in for a hellish night."

A spokesman for Anglia Railways said: "Our 16.00 service from London suffered such serious damage to its pantograph that it came off, bringing the overhead wires down with it. We don't know at this stage what the exact cause was.

"However, there had been a problem earlier in the afternoon with a First Great Eastern train which also suffered damage to its pantograph, although the problem was eventually sorted out."

He said the First Great Eastern engine had suffered from the similar problem in "roughly the same vicinity".

Carl Lombardelli, spokesman for First Great Eastern, said: "It is not clear at this stage what has caused the lines to come down – but it is really too early to speculate."

He added the company had no knowledge of the alleged incident involving one of its trains earlier in the day - "no one at the control room has been able to confirm that," he said.

Nobody was available from Network Rail last night to comment on the problems.


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