Crews working to fix rail problems

RAIL bosses in East Anglia were today hoping services would be back to normal for this evening's rush hour after 24 hours of chaos on the region's busiest route.

By Paul Geater

RAIL bosses in East Anglia were today hoping services would be back to normal for this evening's rush hour after 24 hours of chaos on the region's busiest route.

Services between London, Ipswich and Norwich were thrown into chaos after a train heading back to the region brought a length of overhead cable down through Ingatestone.

Fewer trains were run, and reduced line speeds in Essex meant journeys took longer with only a single line open at one of the busiest stretches of track on the network.

The exact cause of the incident has still to be investigated, but it happened on the same stretch of track where there were problems with overhead wires last August and September.

The overhead wires along that stretch of track date from before rail nationalisation in 1948.

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Peter Meades from rail company 'one' said today that the first priority of engineers was to reopen both lines as soon as possible.

He said: “We have one line, normally used by trains heading to London, which is still open so we are routing all trains through that section but it means the capacity is seriously reduced.

“Off peak there will be one train an hour from Ipswich and Norwich until 4pm when we hope to have everything running normally again.”

Last year's problems were caused by faults with the overhead wire and although they were repaired, the basic structure of the cables has not been changed.

However last week Network Rail announced a £50 million improvement programme for the region which includes replacing overhead wires between London and Chelmsford, including the stretch through Ingatestone, over the next two years.

Weary commuters at Ipswich railway station today spoke of their frustration at service delays caused by faulty overhead wires. However unlike last autumn they felt they had been kept informed about the problems.

Passengers taking the 7.23am train to Liverpool Street said they expected a day of rail hold-ups as engineering teams attempted to fix the problem.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said investigations were focused on the state of the overheadline immediately before the incident and the company apologised for the inconvenience that had been caused.

Michael Thomas, who works in South Bank, said: “I was held up last night. I tried to get the 4pm train but it didn't leave until about 4.50pm, meaning I didn't get to Ipswich until after 6pm.

“The 7.23am service is usually the fast train, but today it's the slow train calling at all the stations, so I will be at work a little later than usual.”

Gary Marjoram was on his way to two meetings in the capital.

He said: “I am probably going to miss the first meeting because of the problems.

“I travel to London about once a fortnight and the last time I went there were big delays when there was a suicide at Witham.”

Social worker Bob Patnell, travelling to his office in Lambeth, said: “I had a half-an-hour delay last night, but there's not much you can do about it.

“The information from 'one' has been very good.”

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