Warning to sort out leaves-on-the-line rail problems before next autumn

Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The rail industry has until next autumn to solve problems with leaves on the line that have caused misery for people trying to travel between Norfolk's biggest urban centres, a council leader has warned.

All services between Norwich and Great Yarmouth were cancelled for four days because there were not enough trains - and when they were due to re-start yesterday morning, many were cancelled because of a points failure.

Greater Anglia said double the number of trains as usual needed repairs this autumn because of damage caused to their wheels by the volume of leaves on the track.

Network Rail, which maintains tracks, said its actions included running extra circuits of its 'leaf-busting rail treatment trains', and keeping staffing levels high at depots.

Graham Plant, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said a solution had to be found by the time the leaves start falling next year.

He said: 'Every time it's the end of the season, the problem goes away, and we think it's been dealt with, and find out the next year we have exactly the same issue. That's the frustration. It's such a seasonal event over a four to six week period that they say they have dealt with it, but next year it happens again.

'We want someone to actually take up the cudgels and say 'In this day and age it's not acceptable to be disrupted by leaves'.'

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A spokesperson for Abellio Greater Anglia apologised for the disruption, and added said: 'We are working with Network Rail to review the issues that have affected our diesel train fleet and looking at what actions we need to take to improve this situation in the future. We are determined to do all we can to continue to improve services in the immediate short-term and in looking ahead for the future.'

What do you think? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk