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Bridge plunge drama halts services

PUBLISHED: 07:15 21 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:13 03 March 2010

TRAINS services are back to normal today after they were brought to a halt over the weekend when a major police operation was launched to stop a man throwing himself off a railway viaduct.

TRAINS services are back to normal today after they were brought to a halt over the weekend when a major police operation was launched to stop a man throwing himself off a railway viaduct.

Thousands of passengers faced major disruption to their journeys between East Anglia and London on Saturday as trained police negotiators tried to talk the man down from the viaduct near Chelmsford railway station.

Trains were halted on the track, overhead power cables were turned off and the road beneath the bridge closed as police officers tried for seven hours to coax the man down.

However, their efforts proved to be in vain as the man, who comes from Colchester, jumped from the viaduct at about 5pm. He suffered leg and arm injuries and was taken to hospital for treatment.

The drama unfolded just after 10am when a 20-year-old man, who has not been named, walked along the railway track from Chelmsford railway station in the direction of Ingatestone.

But when he reached the railway viaduct, the man stopped and began making threats to jump onto the road below.

Essex Police and the Essex Ambulance Service were called to the scene, while Anglia Railways and First Great Eastern train services were halted in both directions outside Chelmsford.

As a precaution, the overhead power cables were turned off and roads in the area around the railway viaduct – including Parkway, one of the main routes into Chelmsford town centre – were closed.

Essex Police deployed its trained negotiators and they tried to bring the man down safely, but at various stages during the afternoon he was seen to climb over a fence on top of the viaduct and lean towards the road below.

As the operation continued into the afternoon, the train timetable between London and Norwich was thrown into disarray by a succession of cancelled services as the line remained closed at Chelmsford.

Anglia Railways warned passengers to expect short-notice alterations, cancellations and long delays to services, then it was forced to introduce emergency measures.

Trains from Norwich were terminated at Colchester and passengers were taken by a special bus service to London Liverpool Street.

Passengers were also advised to take a First Great Eastern train from Colchester to Witham, then go by bus to Shenfield to catch a First Great Eastern service to Liverpool Street.

Anglia Railways said passengers could also change at Ipswich for its service to Cambridge, then catch a WAGN train for either Liverpool Street or King's Cross, but it warned the public not to travel unless journeys were absolutely necessary.

The London Crosslink services between Colchester and Basingstoke were also suspended as the police negotiations continued throughout the afternoon.

The man was still being treated for arm and leg injuries at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford last night, but his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

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