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MP’s anger at rail chiefs for day’s notice of nine weekend line closures

PUBLISHED: 15:05 25 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:05 25 January 2020

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt in Parliament  Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt in Parliament Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS

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Ipswich’s MP has blasted rail chiefs for publicising nine weekend line closures a day before engineering work began.

Tom Hunt called it "completely unacceptable" that customers got less than 24 hours' warning of the rail line to London closing for most weekends until after Easter.

Network Rail and train operator Greater Anglia insist notice had been available in advance on posters at stations, a mobile app and online for two months.

Engineers have closed the main line at Maryland to replace track - with a bus replacement between Ingatestone and Newbury Park.

Trains will be able to get through on weekends at the start of February and Easter holidays.

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Details were published on the service alterations section of the Greater Anglia website, and advance ticket buyers would have been told, but news was not posted on the homepage, and many, like Mr Hunt, became aware after the company issued a press release the day before work started.

Mr Hunt said he was perplexed that details were not mentioned during a rail summit he chaired last week, and that he would demand answers in Parliament, adding: "The fact that passengers have been given less than 24 hours notice is completely unacceptable.

"Replacement bus services don't just add around 50 minutes to the journey to London, they make the whole journey more unpleasant and arduous.

"I have no doubt that thousands of my constituents will be impacted by this. It is one thing after the other when it comes to our rail service, and it feels like misery after misery.

"There has been much that has angered me regarding our rail services since my election but this takes the prize."

A Greater Anglia spokesman said information about the work, undertaken by Network Rail, had been available since November 25, adding: "We are very sorry about the inconvenience these works cause to passengers. We will make sure that all customers can complete their journey, even if part of it is by bus.

A Network Rail spokesman said engineers had planned the work to be completed as soon as possible, adding: "The work we are undertaking is vital to the long-term reliability of our railway. We understand the inconvenience this work will cause to some passengers, but renewing such complex infrastructure cannot be done without some short-term closures."

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