Up to two more decades of rail problems

ENGINEERS could take more than 20 years to solve all the overhead wire problems on the London to East Anglia main line, the region's top rail boss warned today.

ENGINEERS could take more than 20 years to solve all the overhead wire problems on the London to East Anglia main line, the region's top rail boss warned today.

A section of the overhead wire in Essex dates back more than 50 years as it was put up by pre-nationalisation company LNER in the late 1940s.

Now it has been warned it could take another 20 years before this infrastructure is completely replaced.

But 'one' Railway boss Dominic Booth said interim measures had been agreed by his company and Network Rail aimed at preventing the kind of chaos which brought services to a halt at the end of August and beginning of September.

Mr Booth said: “We have agreed short and medium term measures aimed at preventing any repeat of the chaos we had and have also agreed ways to deal with problems better than we did in the early autumn.

“But the underlying problem is that the wires in part of Essex are very old, they came on line in 1948 and, while they have been updated over the years, the basic system is very outdated.

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“There is not the system of tension that you get in more modern sections which prevents the kind of problems we saw last month.

“Until the entire system is replaced, the wires will not be as robust as the more modern sections.”

He warned it would take several years before a proposal to replace the wires in Essex in the section of line through Chelmsford could be considered by Network Rail and the Department for Transport.

He said: “It could take 20 years before all the wires are replaced - but the short and medium-term measures we are taking should improve the reliability of the line in that sector significantly.”

Since the chaos six weeks ago there have been several meetings between 'one' bosses and Network Rail officials to find out what went wrong and what steps can be taken to avoid any repetition of the problems.

There were three problems within a week, all caused by damage to overhead wires. The cause of two of these problems was quickly identified, although the third took longer to identify.

Weblink: www.one-railway.co.uk

N Do you think the train service improved since early September? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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