East Anglian rail travel should ease after a tough week for Greater Anglia and Network Rail

Network Rail teams clear the icicles in Ipswich tunnel. Picture: NETWORK RAIL

Network Rail teams clear the icicles in Ipswich tunnel. Picture: NETWORK RAIL - Credit: Archant

Rail operator Greater Anglia is hoping to run a near-normal service on all lines at the start of next week as forecasters expect temperatures to rise over the next few days.

Where have the rails gone? Snowdrifts on the tracks to Clacton. Picture: NETWORK RAIL

Where have the rails gone? Snowdrifts on the tracks to Clacton. Picture: NETWORK RAIL - Credit: Archant

Network Rail engineers struggled all week to keep main lines open – and some branch lines had to close because they were covered by snowdrifts.

However with temperatures expected to return to positive figures on Saturday and to be up to 8C on Sunday, they hope the snow will have melted enough for a normal service to restart.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said: “We will still have to run trains over the lines that have been closed to check that everything is working before passenger services can run.

“But we are hopeful if the weather forecasters are right that services will be able to return to normal from Monday morning.”

The scale of the problem facing Network Rail was shown when they released photographs showing some of the snowdrifts and whiteout conditions that rail operators faced between Wednesday and Friday.

One of the most spectacular showed the icicles that had built up in Ipswich rail tunnel.

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These forced the closure of the main line for about an hour on Tuesday when the power was switched off to allow Network Rail engineers to walk through the tunnel knocking off the icicles that could have caused serious damage to trains.

Yesterday’s plea by Greater Anglia for people to avoid travelling by train if possible appeared to have been heeded – a spokeswoman for the company said there were many fewer passengers than normal on a Friday.

She said the company had managed to cope with the passengers who turned up, but there were fewer trains than normal and passengers did need to be ready for a long wait between trains.

Normal weekend services are due to run on most lines – although the engineering work near London means passengers will have to use a bus connection.

However there will be no trains on the Ipswich to Lowestoft route on Saturday – they are expected to resume at the start of the new week.

Some Greater Anglia trains had been damaged by snow and water getting into their moving parts, but engineers are working on them over the weekend and they should be ready for Monday.

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