Hundreds caught up in rail chaos

HUNDREDS of commuters faced severe delays today after a section of the mainline between Ipswich and Colchester was closed.

HUNDREDS of commuters faced severe delays today after a section of the mainline between Ipswich and Colchester was closed.

Those heading back to work after the Bank Holiday weekend were forced to queue in the rain to wait for replacement buses after overhead wire problems meant all National Express East Anglia services to London were suspended.

Engineers from Network Rail began working to fix the problems on the overhead lines in the Manningtree area at 7pm yesterday. It was hoped that the services would be fixed by the morning rush hour, however the section of the railway was closed until around 8am, meaning hundreds were affected by the fault.

There were residual delays and a few cancellations as train services were fully resumed.

Several disgruntled commuters couldn't wait for the buses so jumped in cabs, headed home to take their cars or even gave up altogether.

Gary Burben, 33, got on the train at Stowmarket without being told of any problems on mainline services. He had to get off at Ipswich to get a replacement buses but with lengthy queues and no sign of any buses, he decided to head home to get his car.

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He said: “They said there were three buses to come but there was no way I would have been able to get on with the amount of people there. I decided to go back to Stowmarket and get my car. I need to get to the centre of London to open up at 9am and cannot be late. If they knew about the problems the night before, this is not good enough.”

Last night, more than 100 passengers were left stranded on a train as a result of the damaged overhead power lines.

About 140 passengers were thought to have been stranded on the London to Norwich train a few minutes after it left Colchester station at 6.24pm.

The train came to a halt at the level crossing at Ardleigh where passengers waited for more than hour to be rescued.

Commuters had to use ladders to evacuate the train before being transferred to buses to be ferried to Ipswich station where they were able to continue on their journeys.

The power failure led to the cancellation of a number of services and the operation of a bus replacement service between Colchester and Ipswich.

A spokesman for train operator National Express East Anglia said: “Network Rail had their engineers working through the night. The original plan was for the service to be restored from first thing this morning. Work has taken longer than expected.

“We appreciate it has been frustrating and disappointing for people who were trying to get into work. We apologise for the disruption.”

Are you a commuter and are fed up with disruption to train services? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

FED-UP commuters today told of their frustration at the rail problems.

Paul Martin, 27, of Chelsea in London, said: "My journey started yesterday! I intended to go to London and I got the train from Diss at 7.30pm and had to get off at Ipswich.

“The problems had happened last night and I was told I could wait for a bus to Colchester then train to Ingatestone and then another bus. I went back, but the train wasn't going to Diss so I went to Halesworth and got picked up.

“I was told the trains would be running this morning so I got up at 5.30am and now there are more problems. Yesterday I was fuming but now it's gone past being annoying to being almost amusing."

Dennis Smith, of Diss, who was travelling to London, said: "It is not good enough. I will be late and it is too frequent that it happens. But I have no choice than to get the train. The problems with the trains are historic and the whole structure needs to be changed."

Gordon Watson, of Diss, who was travelling to London, said: "It happens so often. On top of problems like this there are ten or 15 minute delays every day - that's the norm. And once a month it is a two to three hour delay. I work for myself so I lose out."

Tom Flynn, 29, of West Norwood in London, said: "It is a disgrace. People are not going to be able to get to work and it is affecting the economy. I'm going to get a cab to Colchester otherwise I won't get to work today."