Trains back on track after delays

RAIL services are delayed by up to 90 minutes because of vandalism on the London mainline between Marks Tey and Colchester.

Craig Robinson

RAIL services are returning to normal following an afternoon of chaos on the London mainline.

Passengers from across Suffolk and Essex faced massive disruption throughout Wednesday - with some journeys taking more than twice as long as usual.

Trains were cancelled and others suffered huge delays from 1.30pm when vandals cut a signalling cable near to Bakers Lane in Colchester.

Some passengers were stuck on trains for more than three hours while engineers from Network Rail repaired the damage.

National Express East Anglia was forced to run a limited service between Liverpool Street and Norwich - with three trains an hour leaving in each direction between 5pm and 7pm.

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Tonight, passengers accepted rail bosses could not be blamed for the disruption but criticised the way they managed the delays.

Margaret and Peter Woollard caught what should have been the 3.30pm service - which eventually left London at around 4pm.

The journey to their home in Ipswich usually only takes just over an hour but the couple arrived at the station at 7pm, two and a half hours later than expected.

“Nothing was announced - we were sitting on the train for hours,” Mrs Woollard said. “At Liverpool Street there was two train loads of people trying to get on to one train. There was no one to assist you at all.”

David Clarke, Peter Moss, Jack Carpenter and Barry Rackham caught the same train as Mr and Mrs Woollard back to Ipswich.

“The information National Express gave us was limited,” Mr Moss said. “I think they could have done better.”

Richard Tuck, who was travelling on the same service to his home in Manningtree, spoke to the EADT while stuck just outside Colchester at 6pm.

“The carriages are full of people standing, it's just ridiculous,” he said. “Every 20 minutes or so they apologise and say it's because of vandalism- but we were stopped outside Witham for 15/20 minutes without them saying anything about why we were stuck. They did say we would be in Colchester in 30 minutes but that was 40 minutes ago and we're still not there.”

A spokesman for British Transport Police (BTP) said officers were called to Bakers Lane in Colchester at 2.20pm.

“It appears a section of the signalling cable has been cut - although is doesn't appear that anything was stolen,” he said. “Officers conducted an examination of the scene and enquiries are ongoing. I would ask anyone with information about this incident to please contact us. Attempting to steal cable in this way is extremely dangerous.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said engineers were expected to finish repairs on Wednesday night.

“We're still testing the signal and I think it will take until close of play,” he said. “The service has been vastly reduced but things should all be fine by the morning.”

Last night a spokesman for National Express East Anglia said the signal was repaired by 6pm and services were slowly getting back to normal.

Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call the BTP on 0800 405040.

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