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Train chaos should end in the new year, Greater Anglia says

PUBLISHED: 16:17 19 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:17 19 December 2019

Jonathan Denby, Greater Anglias Head of Corporate Affairs, on Sheringham station's new platform. Disruption there will continue until early in the new year. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Jonathan Denby, Greater Anglias Head of Corporate Affairs, on Sheringham station's new platform. Disruption there will continue until early in the new year. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Archant

Rail disruption between Norwich and Sheringham will continue until at least the new year, Greater Anglia has confirmed.

Services on the line have been running at a reduced speed this month, causing severe delays.

Trains are also only running every two hours after 9.45am and passengers must get a bus between Cromer and Sheringham.

Greater Anglia said signalling problems behind the delays were expected to continue until early in the new year. The delays came after a near-miss at Thorpe End level crossing where a train almost hit a car when barriers went up too early.

It means trains have to run slowly over level crossings.

At a council meeting on Tuesday Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, called for Greater Anglia to put out a statement "urgently" telling people how it would solve the problems.

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In an email to council leaders Jonathan Denby, Greater Anglia's head of corporate affairs, said: "Colleagues at Network Rail are preparing a plan that we hope will enable us to restore a normal service early in the New Year."

He added that the Ipswich-Peterborough service, which is currently suspended, would also begin again in the new year.

Mr Denby said that Greater Anglia's new Stadler trains were not the "root cause" of the major disruption but there had been "teething issues" with the software.

He also said in the email that the Swiss-train manufacturer had a "special taskforce" in the UK tackling issues.

The disruption has also put the testing and driver training on the new Stadlers behind schedule, leading to further delays.

Mr Denby added in the email: "We are working closely with Network Rail, who continue to look at issues relating to the infrastructure and the effect of weather conditions on railhead conditions and the track/train wheel interface.

"They are close to finalising their mitigation plan for the signalling issues. After exhaustive tests, there is no indication that the trains themselves are the root cause of the issues.

"We are confident that when we have overcome these temporary issues, the new trains will deliver major benefits for customers and communities, building on the many improvements they offer in terms of service quality."

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