Frustration as Norwich-bound trains stopped by a tree for four hours

Passengers stranded at Stowmarket railway station. Picture: Chris Brown

Passengers stranded at Stowmarket railway station. Picture: Chris Brown - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of passengers were left stranded at Stowmarket Railway Station last night because of a tree.

Passengers on Abellio Greater Anglia services including the 5.50pm, 6.30pm and 7.30pm from London Liverpool Street to Norwich were forced to stop at the Suffolk station for more than four hours.

An Abellio spokesman said the delay was caused by a fallen tree on the line.

John Charmley from Harleston was on the 6.30pm train and called the incident 'absolutely farcical'.

He said there was a clear lack of communication between Abellio and Network Rail, leaving passengers in the dark about how they could get home.

He said: 'The staff were lovely and I felt really sorry for them. It seemed as though there was no or very sporadic communication between them and Network Rail. They clearly had no idea what was going on till well after 11pm.'

Mr Charmley said his train was already crowded when it left London because two earlier services were cancelled, and the journey went downhill from there.

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He said: 'You started off with an extremely overcrowded train and at Ipswich another lot of people crowed in. Then it just descended into farce.'

When the train stopped at Stowmarket, passengers were at one point told to get off the train, and taxis would be arranged.

Mr Charmley said: 'We were told to de-train and the station master told us to get back on the train. We were told we would be getting taxis but nothing happened.'

Mr Charmley said he finally got home at 12.20am, whereas should have arrived back at 8.10pm.

Another passenger, Chris Brown, was on the 5.50pm service from Liverpool Street, travelling to Diss.

He said he was stuck at Stowmarket for more than two hours before he was able to get a taxi.

Mr Brown, from Denton said: 'It was frustrating because they kept changing what they were saying. The staff were doing their best but they didn't seem to have any good plan in place.'

Passengers also took to Twitter to vent their frustration.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb was among those caught in the delays. He tweeted at 9.06pm: 'No trains to Norwich from Liverpool Street. Absolutely no information! Why can't we be told what's happening and how we get home?'

Phillip Williams, from Halvergate, tweeted at 10.54pm: 'Arrived at Stowmarket with hundreds of others no alternative transport arranged. #greaterangliasucks. Over 5 hours so far.'

An Abellio spokesperson said: 'We would like to sincerely apologise to passengers who were affected by the disruption yesterday. Services were cancelled and severely delayed from 4.30pm until the end of service.

'Mainline services were affected by a buckled rail at Colchester, a tree on the line near Diss, and a speed restriction which was imposed by Network Rail. Engineers worked to fix the problems as quickly as possible, however this did result in lengthy delays for many passengers.

'Alternative transport was organised where available, however we could only source a limited number of buses and taxis. One line between Norwich Diss reopened at 10.10pm so trains were able to run at a slower speed; no passengers were stranded.

'We worked closely with Network Rail during the disruption and were in constant communication.'

There were new delays on the Norwich to London mainline on Thursday morning. A fault with the signalling system between Norwich and Diss, and a fault with barriers at a level crossing between Needham Market and Ipswich are both causing trains to run at reduced speed on all lines.

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