Could Storm Ciara throw Greater Anglia timetables into chaos?

Rail engineers fear Storm Ciara could cause problems for trains on Sunday and Monday. Picture: Netwo

Rail engineers fear Storm Ciara could cause problems for trains on Sunday and Monday. Picture: Network Rail - Credit: Archant

Gather up your gazebos and tie down your trampolines – that’s the plea to homeowners near tracks from rail bosses who fear the approaching Storm Ciara could devastate train timetables on Sunday and Monday.

They fear the storm, which is due to cross the country between Saturday night and Sunday evening, could cause widespread problems to the rail network, bringing down trees and damaging overhead wires which could then take some time to repair.

They also warn that during the storm - which could last several hours - there are likely to be speed restrictions which will make journeys take longer. Greater Anglia has asked people with gardens near rail tracks to ensure anything that can be blown away is tied down and cannot blow on to the lines.

Network Rail bosses have warned that if there are problems it could be unsafe to send out engineers while the winds are particularly high - so there could be delays in getting any damage repaired which could delay services on Monday morning.

Network Rail is already due to carry out track maintenance work in Essex on Sunday, meaning there are not due to be any trains between Ipswich and Ingatestone - but with the high winds there could be much wider disruption.

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: "We're keeping a very close eye on weather forecasts and will keep customers updated with as much notice as possible if our train services are disrupted.

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"Our priority is to run a safe service for our customers and staff."

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail Anglia's route director said: "We're working hard to get all our resources and people in place to deal with any potential damage that Storm Ciara might bring. In the event of damage, while every effort will be made to get the network running, we need to make sure we don't put anyone at risk.

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"The safety of our staff and passengers is our absolute priority. If that means delaying repairs until the gusts have gone, I am certain that is the right thing to do.

"I know if this happens it will have a big impact on everyone's start to the week, but that's why we're getting a message out now, so people can prepare if the worst happens. We will work with train operators to keep you all updated over the weekend as we know more."

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