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Commuters’ anger at yet more major rail delays on Norwich to London line

PUBLISHED: 11:14 26 August 2014 | UPDATED: 16:58 26 August 2014

Over-running engineering work has delayed train services between Norwich and London. Photo: Bill Smith

Over-running engineering work has delayed train services between Norwich and London. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

Rush-hour commuters have again been hit with delays and cancellations because of over-running engineering works at Ipswich – two weeks after Network Rail bosses pledged the issue would not be repeated.

"We are sorry for the disruption that passengers are experiencing today on routes through Ipswich."

Network Rail spokesperson

A signalling equipment fault between Ipswich and Manningtree and a broken down train between Colchester and Manningtree added to this morning’s train problems on the Norwich to London line.

Commuters wanting to travel from Norwich to London were being advised to travel from Norwich via Ely and Cambridge to Liverpool Street or King’s Cross - or delay their journeys.

The line reopened at 11am, but disruption has continued for most of today.

The news has come just hours after Network Rail bosses said they were confident the work would be completed on time and trains would be running as normal between London and the region following the two-day track closure at Ipswich.

Reporter Rebecca Murphy was caught up in the disruption

This is the third week I have made the daily commute from Stowmarket to Norwich and despite a few delays and cancelled trains, mainly in the evening on my way home, my service has not been affected as badly as others.

This morning however, my 7.55am train to Norwich was cancelled and I had to wait until 8.35am until the next service. On the platform at Stowmarket people were annoyed, especially those who got off the Norwich to Stowmarket service as they had to catch trains to Ipswich and faced further delays.

Many were annoyed with the over-running engineering works but were understanding of the signalling problems.

What was frustrating most for commuters was the lack of communication informing them of what was happening.

I was informed by one Greater Anglia worker to take a Peterborough bound train and get off at Ely to make my way to Norwich to then be told by another worker that if I waited at Stowmarket there would be a service running to Norwich.

I was not alone.

A woman on the train told me she missed an interview in London this morning because she was told the train from Norwich was going through to London Liverpool Street.

However, once the service reached Stowmarket it travelled back to Norwich. She stayed on the train and travelled back to Norwich and was hoping to attend another interview in Manchester.

It is the tenth time in six years the company has been unable to complete work on schedule on the Great Eastern Main Line.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We are undertaking significant work to replace tracks and signalling around Ipswich to give passengers the reliable service they expect.

“Our engineers encountered major problems overnight integrating the equipment with the existing 30-year-old tracks and signals that are in place.

“We know how important it is to complete our work on time, which is why we built eight hours contingency into our work this bank holiday weekend. “Unfortunately, such is the extent of the problems we encountered that we are still working to bring all the lines safely into operation.

“We recognise this is unacceptable and are now re-thinking our approach to the improvement work required for Ipswich, given the severity of the problems we are encountering.

“An in-depth review of the entire upgrade programme is under way which will limit the risk of work overrunning in future.

“We are working to get the railway operating as soon as possible but anticipate that the East Suffolk line will continue to be disrupted for most of the day as well as the line from Ipswich to Felixstowe.”

Steve Beardwell, 61, who works for Aviva, travels daily from Chelmsford to Norwich said he was frustrated with the lack of communication.

He said: “There is no information. I left Chelmsford because I was not told there were no trains running past Ipswich. I would have taken my car and driven to Norwich had I known.

“Over the last three months this is the third big incident that has happened. They must have known the works were going to overrun yesterday, so why hasn’t more been done? I understand things go wrong but I just feel that there is poor communication from those at Greater Anglia.”

Matthew Nobel, 19, an accountant working in Norwich, travelling from Diss, said: “This morning hasn’t been good. I only started my job three weeks ago and although there have been a few delays; it had been all right so far. But I guess I will have to hope this does not continues to happen in the future.”

An Abellio Greater Anglia spokesperson said: “We are sorry for the disruption that has affected train services as a result of engineering work overrunning in the Ipswich area and for the frustration and inconvenience to journeys this has caused to our customers. It is extremely important that Network Rail completes engineering works on time. We are reviewing Network Rail’s engineering work programme going forward to identify actions to reduce the scope of the works, and we intend to propose revisions to the programme to help remove the risk of overruns.

“In respect of this morning’s disruption, we made every effort to provide regular service updates to our customers as information became available to us from Network Rail.

“We also continue to look at ways of improving the provision of information to our customers when service disruption occurs.”

• Passengers are being advised to check service updates here before travelling.

• Have the delays caused you problems? Email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk

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