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Suffolk and Essex MPs press rail firms for answers after week of severe train delays

Ipswich railway station Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich railway station Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

MPs in Suffolk and Essex are pressing Greater Anglia and Network Rail for answers after repairs to a cracked track caused severe disruption on the line to London this week.

Witham MP Priti Patel Picture: DOMINIC LIPINSKI /PA WIREWitham MP Priti Patel Picture: DOMINIC LIPINSKI /PA WIRE

Passengers had a turbulent time after Network Rail discovered a crack in a piece of track during a routine inspection.

The section of the line was made specially to fit a curve on the approach to Liverpool Street Station, and Network Rail said it was too big to repair – meaning a replacement part was required.

It led to a week of delays on all services entering Liverpool Street, although it has since been confirmed services would be back to normal on Monday.

Priti Patel, MP for Witham, urged Greater Anglia to compensate passengers who lost out.

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin. Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONSIpswich MP Sandy Martin. Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS

She said: “This week, my constituents have experienced severe delays and cancellations, as well as dangerous overcrowding on trains and platforms as a result of the heavily reduced service.

“Passengers have been paying the full fare for tickets, but have not been receiving the level of service expected. I have urged Greater Anglia to ensure that passengers are properly compensated for the disruption they have experienced this week.”

She said although the track was now temporarily repaired, Network Rail wouldn’t be fixing the track defect permanently until October.

Sandy Martin, MP for Ipswich, has written to Network Rail asking why it didn’t stock replacements for made-to-measure track pieces.

He said he thought the firm should broaden its compensation scheme and remind passengers how to claim if they have lost out.

“I think it is completely mad that they are not spare parts available to replace a cracked rail when it occurs,” he added.

“I have asked various questions of Network Rail about cracked rails, the main one being if they knew it was likely to be cracked, why didn’t they replace it sooner.”

Steve Hooker, Network Rail’s head of maintenance for Anglia, said: “I understand that some passengers will have had some difficult journeys over the last few days and I’d like to apologise to those who have been affected.

“We have worked as quickly as possible to build a new piece of track so that services can return to normal.

“I’d like to thank passengers for their patience during this time.”

Greater Anglia managing director Jamie Burles said: “We’re really sorry that our rush hour services on the Great Eastern Main Line were disrupted during the week, with trains fuller than usual and some delays and cancellations. 
“We tried to help customers as much as possible with extra staff drafted in to assist at stations and the declassification of first class to create more seats and space. 
“I’d like to thank our customers for their patience. 
“Delay repay is available and any claims as a result of this week’s disruption will be treated sympathetically.”

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