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Heatwave causes severe delays on East Anglian trains

PUBLISHED: 23:18 30 June 2015 | UPDATED: 08:11 01 July 2015

Late evening sunlight falls on the tracks at Norwich station on the day many commuters were disrupted by the hot weather buckling the track near Stowmarket.
 Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Late evening sunlight falls on the tracks at Norwich station on the day many commuters were disrupted by the hot weather buckling the track near Stowmarket. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Archant Norfolk.

Rail passengers felt the full force of the heatwave as a buckled train line caused severe delays to services between Norwich and London.

Temperatures of up to 30 degrees Celsius proved too hot to handle at a section of the line near Stowmarket, which needed emergency engineering work prompting hours of inconvenience to travellers last night.

A spokesman for Abellio Greater Anglia, which operates trains on the line, apologised for the disruption and said both lines at Stowmarket had reopened by 9.30pm.

The buckled train line also caused delays to services from Ipswich to Bury St Edmunds.

The earliest service from London affected was the 4.30pm which was halted at Ipswich.

Passengers from the following three London to Norwich services were then put on to the 4.30pm, which finally arrived just after 9pm.

Ms Tess Joseph, 54, caught the 5pm train from London and missed a dinner at the University of East Anglia due to the delay.

She said: “It was vile beyond belief.

“I missed the 4pm train from London because of traffic.

“It’s been a complete disaster from start to finish. We were like sardines in a tin on the train.”

Cameron Macdougall, 57, of Barton Turf, who is a steward at today’s Norfolk Show, said his carriage wasn’t air-conditioned and he wasn’t given any water.

But other passengers were more lucky.

Janet Stenson and Erica Moore, both of Norwich who had visited an exhibition in London, said: “All the staff dealt with us quite well.

“We were all offered water. The passengers stuck together and there was a good atmosphere.”

The Abellio spokesman said: “Our priority was to get passengers affected by the track problem to their destinations as quickly as possible which means that some services were very busy.

“We do give out free bottled water to passengers if the air conditioning fails in a carriage and have issued advice about travelling in hot weather on our website.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Warm weather causes the steel rails to expand as they heat up, which is why we closely monitor track temperatures and take action, if it’s needed, to keep trains running safely and reliably.

“Track temperatures this week are predicted to exceed 50 degrees Celsius in many places, meaning we will need to impose speed restrictions at some locations.

“This is because slower trains exert lower forces on the track, reducing the risk of buckling.”

For travel advice in the hot weather, visit www.abelliogreateranglia.co.uk

Have you been affected by the delays? Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk or tweet us at @edp24

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