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Citrus oil - Greater Anglia's secret ingredient to get its new trains back on track

PUBLISHED: 12:30 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 14:07 10 December 2019

Greater Anglia using citrus oil to improve the running of their trains. Picture: Kate Wolstenholme/Getty images/iStockphoto.

Greater Anglia using citrus oil to improve the running of their trains. Picture: Kate Wolstenholme/Getty images/iStockphoto.

Getty Images/iStockphoto/Archant

Greater Anglia has revealed its secret ingredient to tackle the host of problems on its network this week - citrus oil.

Greater Anglia has apologised for the problems. Photo: Greater AngliaGreater Anglia has apologised for the problems. Photo: Greater Anglia

More than 80 services are cancelled again today on its rural routes with the Norwich-Sheringham, Ipswich-Peterborough, Norwich-Cambridge, and Ipswich-Felixstowe lines particularly badly hit.

Greater Anglia has blamed the mass cancellations on "signalling problems".

But an email sent to staff yesterday shows that the rail operator is trying to fix issues with its new, £1.4 billion trains on the routes.

Greater Anglia brought in the new Stadler trains, called Class 755s, earlier this year, but they have been hit with a barrage of problems and are nicknamed "Basils" by staff because they have so many faults.

The dangers of the faults were exposed last week when it emerged the Rail Accident Investigation Branch is looking at how a new train was 0.25 seconds away from smashing into a car at Thorpe End level crossing on November 24.

It almost hit the car when the level crossing barriers went up too soon.

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An email, sent on Monday by union organiser Nigel Gibson and deputy director at Greater Anglia Richard Packer, outlines the measures now being put in place on the new trains.

It includes treating the wheels with citrus oil to remove any "contamination" on them.

One of the problems exposed by the near miss at the level crossing is an issue between how the trains communicate with the rail system through sensors on the track.

The trains have also had their "flange lubricators" removed from their wheels.

They reduce friction between the train and track, but it is understood the lubrication system could have blocked the circuit at the level crossing which controls the automatic barriers.

The new trains are also being restricted on the rural routes and running at 20mph over some level crossings.

Network Rail, meanwhile, has changed the timings of the barriers at level crossings to stop a repeat and have put staff in place in case barriers fail.

It is not clear how long the disruption will last.

On Monday Greater Anglia's managing director Jamie Burles wrote to staff: "We had a tough week last week and we're not out of the woods yet."

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