Rail commuters face more misery today

RAIL commuters face travel chaos this morning as engineers struggle to repair overhead lines which came down during last night's rush hour.

RAIL chaos between Ipswich and London is set to continue throughout today and possibly in to tomorrow, travel bosses have revealed.

Thousands of rail users endured hours of disruption between London and East Anglia after all services were suspended from 6pm yesterday when overhead lines came down during rush hour.

Engineers are today battling to rectify the problem, affecting overhead lines between Shenfield and Chelmsford.

A single line is now open although a “severely reduced service” will operate today and possibly into tomorrow.

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A spokesman for National Express East Anglia said a “shuttle service” is running between Norwich and Ipswich while a limited service will ferry passengers between Ipswich and London.

The spokesman said: “We are doing everything we can to put through as many trains as possible.

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“We are very much in the hands of the engineers as to how quickly they can proceed with work.”

Hundreds of passengers bound for Ipswich were left stranded when the train carrying them became stranded at Ingatestone yesterday when the problems occurred.

Network Rail were forced to send staff loaded with litre bottles of water to the stranded train after the air conditioning failed during the three-hour wait.

Trapped passenger, engineer James Moores from Colchester, reported people ripping off grills in a desperate bid for fresh air.

He said: “We were baking. It was a nightmare. People were getting hotter and hotter and started ripping off the grills.

“We were sat there for two and a half hours.”

He reported a series of bangs above the train before the power cut out and the train ground to a holt.

“It felt like something had hit us, it was really scary. Everyone ducked.”

This latest set of delays comes just days after the chief executive of Network Rail, Iain Coucher, was awarded a £500,000 bonus.

All services between Shenfield and Colchester were suspended after the drama just before 6pm, leaving thousands of commuters stranded with no way home.

In Ipswich passengers trying to make their way into London were being diverted through Peterborough and Cambridge.

One passenger, James Goffin, struggling to get home to Norwich from Ipswich decided after a two hour wait on the platform to sleep at a friend's house.

Replacement buses were laid on from Shenfield to try and relieve the crowds coming out of London.

There were also long tailbacks on the A12 as people rushed to pick up their partners.

John Moores, of Wivenhoe, was on his way back from work in the capital on the 17.50 service to Colchester when the chaos struck.

“We were not told what was going on and there was no information given about whether buses were coming,” he said last night.

“There was just a lack of communication. We asked the conduct what was going on and we were able to get more from going onto the web on our mobiles and blackberries. This does not inspire confidence in the ability of the railway staff to communicate to its customers. But the contractor Network Rail has got this wrong.”

Incidentally there were also fallen power lines on the West Anglia route from London to Cambridge.

Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs for operator National Express East Anglia, said: “The damage to the overhead power lines is extensive and it will not be completed over night. There will be a reduced service into London tomorrow morning.

“There will be four trains an hour from Ipswich to London and two trains an hour from Clacton to London and connecting half hourly service from Norwich to Ipswich.

“There is no connection being made by Network Rail to the West Anglia fault at this stage and it is to early to say what happened to either of them.”

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