Day of misery for passengers on main line from Suffolk and Essex to London

Network Rail engineers worked through the night to fix the overhead wires.

Network Rail engineers worked through the night to fix the overhead wires. - Credit: Archant

Rail passengers heading to and from London endured a day of disruption after six sections of overhead wire came down over 10 miles in Essex.

A problem was first spotted on a stretch of track between Shenfield and Chelmsford at about 10pm on Thursday night.

Network Rail said trains could continue to run until the end of service – shortly after midnight – before engineers moved in.

When the engineering teams arrived they found there were problems with the wires at six different points on the line used by trains heading towards Colchester and Ipswich.

By 1am the Network Rail engineers realised it would take at least six hours to repair the damage and warned Greater Anglia that there would be delays affecting rush hour trains.

The line did not reopen until 8.30am – by which time Greater Anglia had warned passengers not to travel unless their journey was vital.

Services started to return to normal during the late morning, but at lunchtime more wires were damaged. It took until 4.30pm to fix these.

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Some trains did get through during the afternoon – but there were delays and cancellations. It was hoped that a normal service should resume on Saturday morning.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia apologised for the disruption and urged passengers to claim through the company’s Delay, Repay scheme.

Colchester MP Will Quince was among those whose journeys were disrupted – he drove with members of his staff to Newbury Park to catch a tube train to Westminster.

He said: “I have written to the rail companies and to the rail minister to express my anger at the situation.

“It seems that there were no contingency plans in place for when a problem like this arose.”

Greater Anglia did arrange some coaches for passengers – but a spokeswoman said it was not possible to hire in enough vehicles to carry all those who would normally catch their trains to the capital so people were advised not to travel unless their journey was vital.

Those who had bought advance tickets for Friday could use them on Saturday or Monday.

Engineers are still trying to work out the original cause of the problem on Thursday night – but their priority was to get the tracks cleared for trains.