Thousands face misery on the railways

DELAY-hit commuters faced New Year misery on the railways today as cancellations and over-running work marred what was for many people the first day back at work after the festive break.

DELAY-hit commuters faced New Year misery on the railways today as cancellations and over-running work marred what was for many people the first day back at work after the festive break.

At the centre of the problems was Liverpool Street station, which remained closed as Network Rail failed to complete engineering works on time.

But while the upgrade to the network was delayed one change was carried out on schedule - fare prices went up as planned.

Network Rail apologised and admitted the delays were “ not acceptable” as rail operator 'one' had to resort to advising people not to travel by train.

The company insisted it had only found out late last night that Liverpool Street would not be re-opening on time today.

At Ipswich station, commuters spoke of their frustration as services were either cancelled or faced long delays.

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John Shoults, of Macaulay Road, Ipswich, said: “It is not good at all - it's my first day back at work after Christmas and I was expecting all the work to be finished.

“They had given a deadline when they expected the work to be completed, and you expect them to be finished by the time they gave.

“It is very frustrating really.”

All services into the capital were terminating at Stratford and Mr Shoults said: “I am expecting it to be very busy when we get there.

“I am going to be very late into work today, despite setting off early.”

Others had been expecting problems and had not left home with such optimism.

Tass Patsalides, of Cobbold Street, Ipswich, said: “We are battle-hardened commuters so this is not surprising.

“I never really expected to be getting into work on time today, as soon as I knew about the engineering works over Christmas part of me knew that this was going to happen.”

As a further blow the delays come on the same day as ticket fares increased across the network.

Fares rose an average of 3.9pc, with the cost of a standard open return from Ipswich to London Liverpool Street climbing from £51 to £53.

Were you caught up in the rail chaos? What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

NETWORK Rail have been working over Christmas to demolish a bridge at Liverpool Street station, on the advice of Transport for London, during which time the station had been closed.

Engineers decided to take advantage of the station being closed to also replace overhead wires, and it is that work that was taking longer than expected.

A spokeswoman for 'one' said this morning: “Our advice to people is not to travel at all.

“There is a severely reduced service running between Ipswich to Stratford but it is experiencing delays and is very crowded, particularly at Stratford.

“We are working closely with Network Rail to restore services as quickly as possible.”

The spokeswoman insisted the failure to complete the engineering works came as a surprise to 'one' and said: “Obviously we will be asking questions but the priority today is to get people to work where possible, and advise others to remain at home if they do not need to travel.”

A spokesman for Network Rail apologised for the continued closure of Liverpool Street station and said it was due to difficulties with engineering work.

“We are trying to get Liverpool Street open as quickly as possible. We expect the majority of mainline services to Liverpool Street to be restored by mid-afternoon.

“We realise it is not acceptable that the station has not reopened and that some trains are not running.”