MP's anger over train delays

A Norfolk MP last night branded the Norwich to London rail service a “disgrace” and said he intended to give the train company a grilling.

A Norfolk MP has branded the Norwich to London rail service a “disgrace” and said he intended to give the train company a grilling.

Dr Ian Gibson, who criticised One and Network Rail earlier this year, spoke out after he and other angry passengers were delayed when the line was blocked by a broken down train yesterday morning.

The Norwich North MP claimed journeys to the capital had become a “trauma” and were regularly bogged down with long delays and misinformation which will be made all the more unacceptable when ticket prices go up next month.

But the train operator said recent figures showed “encouraging” performance on the line - and said it was working closely with Network Rail, which runs the tracks and signals, to avoid problems in future.

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Yesterday, One Railway's 9.30am train to London Liverpool Street sparked on-going problems when it was delayed by 25 minutes and then broke down at Diss.

About half an hour later, the train was towed to Ipswich where passengers boarded another train for the rest of their journey to Liverpool Street.

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The hold-up had the knock-on effect of delaying subsequent departures from Norwich for two hours until about midday.

“I was supposed to get the 10.30 train, but it didn't leave until 11.20, and (Yarmouth MP) Tony Wright was supposed to be on the 9.30 but ended up getting on mine,” said Dr Gibson.

“We were so delayed that we've only just got in to the office, at 2.15pm. First we were told it was a signal failure, then that a train had broken down and then it was a fatality.

“I think we are going to have to recreate that inquiry in to the trains.”

He added: “I suppose you could say it's become the most exciting journey in the world because you never know how it's going to turn out.”

Speaking about the price hikes - which will see an annual season ticket to London go up £360 to £6,000 - he added: “That is a disgrace, the service is not going to improve.

One regular passenger told the EDP his journey back to Norwich on Sunday was a “nightmare” and took twice as long as it should have done.

The 8.32pm left London 10 minutes late and then terminated at Witham, Essex, because of problems with overhead wires.

“There was then a bus from Witham to Ipswich, then at Ipswich we were told there was a signal failure at Stowmarket and we had to wait for another bus to take us on to Norwich,” he said.

Last night One Railway apologised to affected customers but denied there were on-going problems with the line.

Spokesman Ellen Rossiter said the 9.30am had left late, and then broken down, and passengers remained on board while the train was towed to Ipswich.

“We are very sorry for the delay caused to our passengers.

“There were two infrastructure problems affecting our mainline service on Sunday, a signal failure in the Stowmarket area and over head line problems in the Marks Tey area.

“It is very unusual to have two such problems affect our service simultaneously.

“We are working closely with Network Rail to understand from Network Rail what caused these problems and what they are doing to avoid such problems happening again in the future.”

“However, we would not agree that the line is beset with problems, as the underlying trends for service performance on our mainline route over recent months have been encouraging.”

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