Region hit by major rail delays

By Ted JeoryTHOUSANDS of rail commuters suffered major delays to their journeys after engineering work overran on the mainline from East Anglia to London.

By Ted Jeory

THOUSANDS of rail commuters suffered major delays to their journeys after engineering work overran on the mainline from East Anglia to London.

Furious passengers heading for London Liverpool Street faced delays and cancellations throughout yesterday after weekend engineering work at Shenfield overran, leaving only two out of five tracks open.

The chaos reached a peak during the morning rush-hour when commuters faced waits of about an hour and a half as workmen, who had been impeded by plant equipment failure, hurried to complete their remaining repairs.

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Although Network Rail contractors managed to reopen the three other tracks by 11.30am, the knock-on effects were so severe that cancellations and delays continued until late in the afternoon.

Derek Monnery, chairman of Manningtree Rail Users' Association, said he had been delayed by 90 minutes on his journey into London.

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He felt it was unfair to blame new train operator One for the chaos, but pressed it to seek strong action against whoever was responsible.

“It was possibly the worst case of engineering overrunning I have ever come across,” said Mr Monnery.

“No-one told us anything about possible delays when we got on the train - it was only when we came to a grinding stop at Chelmsford that we knew something was up.

“People were rightly furious about it because it was totally avoidable. There's no way in the world that you can let engineering works at such a key point on the main line overrun as they did.”

One commuter, Richard Carter, said he had been delayed by about 45 minutes on his London-bound journey.

“You'd think that this new operator would want to make a fresh start and show its good intentions by giving some sort of token compensation to people like me who do not qualify,” he added.

A spokeswoman for One, which just three weeks ago took over the region's single train operator franchise from Anglia Railways and First Great Eastern, said the worst delays had lasted one hour.

“Managers are extremely upset by what happened and are already investigating to see what can be done to avoid this in the future. This was entirely Network Rail's fault and One was doing the best it could,” she added.

“People waiting 60 minutes or more will be entitled to compensation via the usual route, but nothing will be given to commuters delayed less than an hour - as set down in our charter.”

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said: “We carried out essential work to renew the railway at Shenfield, which unfortunately overran due to the failure of plant equipment.

“This caused delays to services running through Shenfield. Network Rail would like to apologise for the disruption caused to passengers.”

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