Chaos on the line after train torched
RAIL commuters travelling between Ipswich and London were severely delayed today following a suspected arson attack on a train.Power supplies had to be disconnected so emergency services could deal with the blaze, which was spotted by fire crews returning from a previous callout near Colchester railway station.
RAIL commuters travelling between Ipswich and London were severely delayed today following a suspected arson attack on a train.
Power supplies had to be disconnected so emergency services could deal with the blaze, which was spotted by fire crews returning from a previous callout near Colchester railway station.
A First Great Eastern train was targeted and Essex fire crews returning from a previous call out, spotted the fire in the sidings near Colchester railway station at 11.56pm.
Two fire engines from Colchester were mobilised and were soon on the scene in North Station Road to discover the fire on a train consisting of four carriages. A rescue tender was also sent.
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They found the third carriage ablaze, and the remaining ones filled with smoke.
Crews of firefighters had to stand by while the railway authorities switched off the overhead power lines and then earthed the cables to make the scene safe.
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Only once that had been completed, could firefighting could take place.
Firefighters were able to prevent the fire spreading to the remanding three coaches but were not able to save two of them which were destroyed by flames.
The fire was under control by 2.33am today.
A spokeswoman for Essex fire service said the fire is currently being treated as suspicious by police.
First Great Eastern services were cancelled and packed Anglia Railways services ran slower than usual through the area with signal problems, and 20 minutes late.
The problems were expected to last until early this afternoon.
Anglia Railways spokesman Jonathan Denby said: "There is real damage to all the signals on the northern approach to Colchester. That considerably reduces the capacity for trains to run safely.
"Great Eastern is running no trains north of Colchester because of this reduced capacity."
He added that all Anglia Railway services were still running, and all trains were calling at Manningtree and Colchester to pick up passengers, irrespective of their usual timetable.
A spokesman for First Great Eastern said the problems were likely to persist until 4pm.
He added: "Until scenes of crime officers have released the units to be removed, work on the signals cannot start."
HUNDREDS of passengers packed the platforms at Colchester railway station today.
Eyes scoured the information screens, anxious to see when their train was finally due.
Diana Barton, of Frinton, said she had heard about the delays to London on the radio.
She was due to be at work in Chelmsford at 9.30am, but did not expect to be there on time.
She said: "Staff have been good, and have given out regular information."
Iain Martin from Colchester said: "I'm trying to get to work in Chelmsford so I rang and said I'd be late. I use this service every day and am getting used to problems."
He joked: "I won't be applying for compensation as they should already owe me millions! I do realise the situation today is out of their hands and I hope they catch the little toerags responsible."
Samantha Bubb , 34, from Walton-on-the-Naze, had no idea when her train would arrive.
She said she had a horrendous journey even getting to Colchester Station, and criticised lack of information given to passengers.
She had already been forced to travel on a bus and a slow train to get to Colchester. She also expected to be late for work in the city.
At Ipswich railway station passengers reported no problems as those with Great Eastern tickets used Anglia Railways services which were still running, with extra stops.