Demand for inquiry over A12 van chaos

A FULL investigation is being demanded today after an almost unprecedented day of chaos paralysed road and rail links between East Anglia and London.The A12 was due to be fully re-opened this morning after road and rail links were closed for 10 hours yesterday.

A FULL investigation is being demanded today after an almost unprecedented day of chaos paralysed road and rail links between East Anglia and London.

The A12 re-opened this morning after road and rail links were closed for 10 hours yesterday.

As reported in yesterday's Evening Star the drama unfolded just after 8.30am yesterday when a 200-metre exclusion zone was set up around a fire in an Essex Fire Service van, involving an explosive oxy-acetylene cylinder near Colchester.

There were fears the cylinder would explode in the intense heat and at one stage police marksmen were on standby considering whether to shoot the cylinder to trigger a controlled explosion.

The incident forced the closure of the road in both directions between junctions 25 and 26. Train services were replaced by buses on the nearby main Norwich-London railway line, which was inside the exclusion zone - sparking chaos for travellers.

It took until 6.30pm - 10 hours after the initial blaze - before the railway was re-opened along with the Ipswich-bound carriageway of the A12, although rail passengers and motorists were still faced with severe delays.

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Last night the cylinder was being left to cool.

Throughout yesterday motorists were diverted through Stanway and Lexden, resulting in heavy traffic in Colchester. Traffic also built up on other routes.

A spokeswoman for train operator One said trains were suspended between Colchester and Witham and a bus replacement service put in place.

Commuter William Stein, who works for BT, said: “It is not a good start to the weekend. I guess there is not much more they (one) can do but I'm not happy.”

Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for North Essex, said: “I will be writing to the chairman of Essex County Council to set up a committee of inquiry. This has caused such a serious paralysis of the whole of the north of the county for what looks set to be 24 hours.”

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