Commuters and MPs demand improvements on Norwich to London line after three-hour train delay misery

Disruption on the Norwich to London Liverpool Street line last night. Photo: Wendy Pilmer Disruption on the Norwich to London Liverpool Street line last night. Photo: Wendy Pilmer

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
4:34 PM

Commuters and politicians have demanded improvements on the Norwich to London Liverpool Street line after the latest incident in a string of problems saw passengers suffering delays of up to five hours.

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Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP, branded the delays on Tuesday, June 17 “totally unacceptable” and said that she would be contacting the minister for the Department of Transport.

The delays, which continued until 2am, came after overhead power line problems caused a train at Chelmsford to break down and block one of two tracks.

Passengers were faced with five-hour long delays, while police were called to London Liverpool Street to deal with the frustration.

It comes after a series of problems on the line - passengers also endured lengthy delays on May 19 after improvement works at Colchester overran.

Ms Smith, who is leading a taskforce to improve the quality of the line, said: “Passengers in Norwich are seeing repeated major disruption which is not on. People who are travelling for any reason have a right to expect to know when they will be able to get home or get to their destination.

“Some of the elements of last night’s situation require physical improvements which will not come about immediately but which I want to see in the long term - such as improvements around the Chelmsford area to pass broken down trains.”

Commuters turned their anger to Abellio Greater Anglia’s communication during the delays, which was deemed inadequate.

Passengers reported being left without information and being charged for bottles of water despite provisions stating that the company policy is to offer free soft drinks after an hour delay.

Rachael Shakespeare caught the 10.30pm train back to Norwich, a journey which took more than three hours.

She said: “I saw no conductor and there were no additional GA staff on the ground appeasing customers, telling them how they can lodge complaints.

“The Twitter updates were disappointing because I don’t think they were equipped to deal with the volume of comments and the social media person clocked off halfway through my journey, which added to the frustration.”

Peter Meades, media manager at Abellio Greater Anglia, said that the situation had been worsened by a “complex and quite difficult” set of circumstances.

He said: “There are only two tracks through that area and we couldn’t use them initially until Network Rail engineers had made their assessment in terms of what had made the train break down.

“This reduced line capacity caused a backlog during rush hour, which became so large we had to start cancelling trains.”

However, Mr Meades said that they would be taking a full review into the situation.

“One of the things we are committed to with any major incident is to always have a thorough review.

“We apologise to customers for the delays and disruption that affected our mainline services between London, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich yesterday evening.”

According to statistics, 91.4pc of Abellio Greater Anglia’s journeys were on time from May 24, 2013 to the same date in 2014.

Journeys are recorded as on time when they reach their destination within five minutes of their intended time for commuter services, and 10 minutes for long-distance services.

More than £430m has been invested in improving and expanding Britain’s rail network in East Anglia over the last 12 months,

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We are sorry about the delays that affected mainline services from Liverpool Street to Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich yesterday evening. We will be carrying out a thorough review into the incident with Abellio Greater Anglia to help avoid it happening again.”

Were you affected by the delays? What do you think is to blame? Contact reporter Lauren Cope at lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

18 comments

  • It amazes me that Chiltern Railways, running from London Marylebone to Birmingham, have taken coaches virtually identical to those on the Norwich line, and COMPLETELY refurbished them, fitting new seats, new toilet modules and even automatic doors, and people think they're brand new coaches. How is it that Greater (than what?) Anglia area struggling to give them a new lick of paint and an interior tidy-up? Why can't our coaches be given the same treatment as those on Chiltern, or better still be replaced with brand new ones?

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    Norfolk and Good

    Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Normally the commute is "bearable" albeit the rolling stock is so old, I found a farthing down the back of the seat the other day! But this week the service is shocking; we can all read about Tuesday, but Wednesday we didn't make it into Liverpool Street at all, getting kicked off the train at Stratford. Then this morning (Thursday June 19) another delay as a vehicle hit a rail bridge near Ipswich that mean another 50 minute delay as an Engineer inspected the bridge. A belly full of Abellio and Network Rail this week I'm afraid!!!

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    John Downing

    Thursday, June 19, 2014

  • Once again Chloe Smith come up with the same old story, she wants to improvements at Chelmsford to pass a broken down train. This is already at Chelmsford because of bi-directional working, only one problem Mrs Chloe, the overhead power was witch off at the time on both roads before anything could be done, do you home work first before making silly comments.

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    Derek McDonald

    Thursday, June 19, 2014

  • Wouldn't it be "news" if the EDP simply reported when a Greater (than what?) Anglia train actually arrived on time?

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    Citizen of EUSSR

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • I am just in today Wednesday from an Equity meeting in London, because of delays tonight completely cancelling the 8pm. with the same of excuse the signals were wrong near Colchester, if its not some fool on the line at Romford its the signals at Colchester, how on earth do commuters put up with this day in and day out, I only have to go once a month, it always seems to be the day some one jumps on the line at Romford. ( I would think he must be tired of doing that by Now.) Disgruntled Peachy

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    Peachy Mead

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • "Norwich in 90" claim George Osborne and Chloe Smith.They fail to say whether this is minutes,hours,or days.

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    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • your missing the point, yes it is a buisness but they are delivering a SERVICE which currently is of a very poor standard.

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    IP

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • Yeah... *******British Rail!......Messed up again!...........Oh wait! This is the wonderful PRIVATE railway.

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    marty r

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • Why do GA always take the brunt of these delays. It is absolutely nothing to do with them. The track etc is own and "maintained" by Network Rail. GA have the unenviable task of trying to run a 21st century service on 18th century infrastructure. Good luck to them with that. When these commuters moved to Norfolk to save large London mortgages, they should have factored in the cost and time spent comuting every day.

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    DaveG

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • “I saw no conductor and there were no additional GA staff on the ground appeasing customers, telling them how they can lodge complaints.".............And just who is going to pay for these additional staff? It's a business NOT a service!

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    marty r

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • I used to commute from Norwich to London in 199091 on this line in good old BR days when these kind of things sometimes happened but over 20 years later nothing seems to have changed, probably got worse! Get this line and others sorted BEFORE spending £billions on HS2!

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    classic0904

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • Expat - A most interesting observation on an ongoing public transport issue.

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    Port Watcher

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • Well I am a non-commuting taxpaying individual who demands that the minority of Norwich residents who choose to travel to London every day pay their full whack for the fare instead of demanding taxpayer funded upgrades to the line.

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    expat

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • A quality train service from Norwich to London is more important than the NDR. This needs to be provided by the time Cross Rail is completed through Liverpool Street. By contrast the road is incomplete, with the vital western link to the A47 missing. Homes are needed around Norwich but not as many as are linked to the NDR.

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    Capri

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • @ no to Tory boy : my Husband has said the only way is to boycot the line and hit them where it hurts the most...... Thankfully this is OK as my Husband can work from home at times.....but not for others unfortunately who have no choice but to use this useless service to get to London daily.

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    luanmapo

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • There was once an inquiry by 3 previous MPs who concluded the same about this journey .Some other MPs ignored the invitation to join in the complaints. Only the travellers can now take militant action to get the line upgraded

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    No to tory boy

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • Where do they get their statistical data from??... My Husband has been commuting most weeks to London for years. He could probably count on one hand, the times where he has actually been ON TIME to either London or Diss return. Thankfully he was working from home yesterday, but he even said this morning there was a 15 min delay into London. His weekly 1st ticket is nearly £300 now and is an absolute joke. I'm starting to think that We would be better off moving south of London and buying a more expensive house with cheaper train fares and a Far Better service!. Less stress as to whether he may make it into work on time or not!...Our railway line is an absolute disgrace!

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    luanmapo

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • Chloe Smith is an idiot. In items of disruption the staff would have been doing whatever they can to get people moving, not handing out delay repay forms. The line has been having upgrades at weekends for over 10 years now and there are years ahead of them too that are already planned, I bet the smarmy cow will take credit for them even though she had nothing to do with it. It sounds like one of these events that just happen and can happen anywhere in the world, you cant just click your fingers and get 50 coaches and drivers magically appear. For shame archant and Chloe Smith.

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    Mooseyt4

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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