MP calls for rail line closure

A Norfolk MP called last night for the railway line from Norwich to London to be closed for six months and overhauled completely. Ian Gibson was reacting to delays caused yesterday when a problem prevented level crossing gates from closing.

A Norfolk MP called last night for the railway line from Norwich to London to be closed for six months and overhauled completely.

Ian Gibson was reacting to delays caused yesterday when a problem prevented level crossing gates from closing.

The MP for Norwich North said the shutdown would be the best way of solving the myriad of problems before the main line suffered a catastrophic failure.

Trains were cancelled and delayed at lunchtime yesterday after a lineside telephone failure left two crossings at Stowmarket, in Suffolk, open permanently.

Instead of stopping trains running through the crossings either side of the station, train drivers were told to slow down to a few miles an hour and wait until the crossings were clear.

Network Rail said the problem was fixed soon after it was reported and there had been no danger to motorists or passengers. A spokeswoman said Dr Gibson's suggestions were interesting but “not practical”, a view echoed by train operator One Railway.

Most Read

Passengers on many mid- and late-morning trains suffered delays yesterday, and the 11am Norwich to Liverpool Street service was among trains cancelled.

In a separate development, trains running from London to East Anglia during the early- evening peak time were also being delayed by 15 to 20 minutes because of a broken- down train on the line.

Dr Gibson said: “If they could promise to get the whole thing sorted out within six months and there were other methods of getting down to London in place, I think they could shut the line and fix these problems.

“This piecemeal approach to fixing faults is leaving people frustrated and gives the impression they're not in control of the line. Sooner or later the whole line is going to break down and will be out of action for days. There needs to be drastic action taken to solve these problems and, as long as they can guarantee to sort it out, they should look at closing the line.”

But Kate Snowden, for Network Rail, said: “I'm not sure that suggestion is entirely practical. Project work is planned years in advance and we don't have people available to work on the line right now.”

And Peter Meades, of One, said: “We don't believe it's a practical proposition, and we don't believe it would be in the interest of passengers to be

put in that position for a considerable period of time.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter