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East Anglian trains run normally as RMT reacts to New Year fare rises

PUBLISHED: 10:09 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:30 02 January 2018

Members of the RMT union lobby rail passengers at Ipswich Station. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Members of the RMT union lobby rail passengers at Ipswich Station. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Rail services on the Great Eastern Main Line to London have returned to normal after the 10-day shutdown over the Christmas/New Year holiday.

Network Rail used the holiday period to close the line between Ingatestone and Liverpool Street to replace overhead wires and some track on the route.

It finished the work on time during the early hours of Tuesday morning – handing over the track to its operational department in time for the first Greater Anglia trains of the day to run as normal.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said they had had no problems on the route during the morning rush-hour although there had been some issues for Transport for London trains between Shenfield and Stratford. That had not affected services from East Anglia itself.

Passengers arriving at Ipswich station were met by members of the RMT union protesting about the 3.4% fare rises that were introduced on Tuesday – but after a short time they were asked to leave the forecourt by station staff.

A specialist crane replacing wires at Gidea Park during the Christmas shutdown. Picture: NETWORK RAILA specialist crane replacing wires at Gidea Park during the Christmas shutdown. Picture: NETWORK RAIL

Network Rail engineers worked the equivalent of 16,000 hours to install over 10km of overhead wire at Ilford, as part of a £250m project to install a new wiring system that automatically adapts to temperature changes to reduce delays.

The 37km stretch from Chelmsford to Ilford now has the new wires installed which means fewer delays and cancellations for passengers, as speed restrictions will no longer need to be imposed in hot weather.

Work to install a further 8km of overhead wire on the section between Ilford and Manor Park begins at the end of the month. Network Rail said these improvements would last for decades.

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “These improvements will provide more reliable journeys for Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex passengers as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan.

A specialist road/rail vehicle was used to rewire some of the overhead cables near Shenfield. Picture: NETWORK RAILA specialist road/rail vehicle was used to rewire some of the overhead cables near Shenfield. Picture: NETWORK RAIL

“Following the installation of overhead wire, we will no longer need to impose speed restrictions between Chelmsford and Ilford in hot weather, which means fewer delays and cancellations.

“Further work will take place at weekends from the end of January and I would like to thank passengers for their patience while we carry out these important upgrades.”

Jamie Burles, managing director for Greater Anglia, said: “We’d like to thank customers for their patience during Network Rail engineering works this Christmas. Together with Network Rail, we’re modernising the railway in East Anglia for now and for future generations to provide a more reliable service.”

Passengers travelling at weekends from Sunday 21 January to 25 March will face rail replacement services from either Witham or Ingatestone to Newbury Park where passengers can pick up the Central Line.

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