East Anglian rail line blocked after trees come down in high winds

Overhead wire engineers repair the damage on the line near Colchester. Picture: NETWORK RAIL

Overhead wire engineers repair the damage on the line near Colchester. Picture: NETWORK RAIL - Credit: Archant

Rail services between East Anglia and London were thrown into chaos on Thursday after high winds brought down a tree on overhead lines just north of Colchester.

The tree came down just after 6.30am and meant that most trains from Ipswich to London were unable to get through. A limited number were allowed to pass before the line was totally closed at 10am to allow engineers to start repairs. The power over both lines had to be turned off to allow the engineers to work safely.

There were no trains between Ipswich and Colchester all day as the engineers worked to repair the extensive damaged caused to the wire. It was due to reopen during the evening and a limited number of peak services were expected to get through - although normal services were not expected to resume until Friday.

The damage was reported by the driver of a Greater Anglia Intercity train which came to a halt because of the downed wires.

Network Rail officials have, in the past, expressed concern about trees planted near railway lines and the risk they pose to infrastructure if they are blown down in high winds. Incidents like that on Thursday are likely to increase pressure on the company and environmental groups to agree to reduce the size of trees near rail lines in a bid to cut the risk of disruption.

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During the day trains could continue to run from Colchester and Clacton to London although the Colchester Town branch was put out of action.

There were a limited number of buses between Ipswich and Colchester on Thursday - but travel was difficult.

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Meanwhile Network Rail is on schedule with its work between Norwich, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, meaning that trains should return to the full length of the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Lowestoft on Sunday as planned.

There are concerns about the possible impact of Storm Dennis at the weekend, but last weekend's Storm Ciara did not cause serious problems for the teams installing new signalling and some new track on the routes.

Trains are due to return to the line between Ipswich and Lowestoft on Monday, and to return to the line between Norwich and Lowestoft the following week, on Monday February 24 after modern signalling and track was installed on the lines.

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