Mainline between Norwich and London to be closed for 10 weekends

Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The main rail line between Norwich and London is to be closed for 10 weekends from early February to the middle of April.

The line will be shut at Shenfield from February 6/7 every weekend until Easter Weekend, when it will be close for four days from March 25-28.

Trains will run as far as Ingatestone, from where there will be a bus link to the Central Line station at Newbury Park – a similar arrangement to that seen over the Christmas holiday.

On the first two weekends of April engineers will shift their attention to the line near Ingatestone. Trains will run as far as Chelmsford from where there will be a bus link to Billericay station.

It is the second year running that Network Rail engineering work has cut off part of the region from the capital – last winter the line was closed for seven weekends to allow track rebuilding in the Colchester area.

This time they are carrying out overhead line work in the Brentwood area, partly linked to the Crossrail project.

A spokesman for the state-owned company said there was never a good time to close the railway, but it was vital to carry out the rail improvement plan to pave the way for the Crossrail project and improve reliability on the main line.

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Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, a leading member of the Great Eastern Taskforce, said he was 'exasperated' by Network Rail – and said the latest news would have a serious effect on the tourist industry in the region and East Anglian residents.

He is due to meet the new chairman of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy, and the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin in the near future and would be bringing up the issue.

A spokesman for Abellio Greater Anglia said: 'We will be working with Network Rail and doing all we can to provide passengers with the best possible alternative service during the weekends when improvement works on the mainline route are taking place.'

Mark Pendlington, co-chairman of the Great Eastern Mainline Taskforce said: 'Yet again travellers across Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk have got to face more travel disruption... the patience of the travelling public is wearing thin.

'We will support improvement work delivered on time and with passengers offered efficient alternative transport when absolutely necessary.'

His fellow co-chairman, Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, said: 'Speaking as a passionate campaigner for rail improvement, and a rail traveller myself, I know what being caught up in disruption is like. However, I think people will recognise that improvements are needed, and for these to be made, actual work needs to be done.

'I expect this work to be done promptly and with as little disruption as possible, so people can get on with their every day lives.'