Commuters and MPs demand improvements on Norwich to London line after three-hour train delay misery
16:34 18 June 2014
Commuters and politicians have demanded improvements on the Norwich to London Liverpool Street line after the latest incident in a string of problems saw passengers suffering delays of up to five hours.
Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP, branded the delays on Tuesday, June 17 “totally unacceptable” and said that she would be contacting the minister for the Department of Transport.
The delays, which continued until 2am, came after overhead power line problems caused a train at Chelmsford to break down and block one of two tracks.
Passengers were faced with five-hour long delays, while police were called to London Liverpool Street to deal with the frustration.
It comes after a series of problems on the line - passengers also endured lengthy delays on May 19 after improvement works at Colchester overran.
Ms Smith, who is leading a taskforce to improve the quality of the line, said: “Passengers in Norwich are seeing repeated major disruption which is not on. People who are travelling for any reason have a right to expect to know when they will be able to get home or get to their destination.
“Some of the elements of last night’s situation require physical improvements which will not come about immediately but which I want to see in the long term - such as improvements around the Chelmsford area to pass broken down trains.”
Commuters turned their anger to Abellio Greater Anglia’s communication during the delays, which was deemed inadequate.
Passengers reported being left without information and being charged for bottles of water despite provisions stating that the company policy is to offer free soft drinks after an hour delay.
Rachael Shakespeare caught the 10.30pm train back to Norwich, a journey which took more than three hours.
She said: “I saw no conductor and there were no additional GA staff on the ground appeasing customers, telling them how they can lodge complaints.
“The Twitter updates were disappointing because I don’t think they were equipped to deal with the volume of comments and the social media person clocked off halfway through my journey, which added to the frustration.”
Peter Meades, media manager at Abellio Greater Anglia, said that the situation had been worsened by a “complex and quite difficult” set of circumstances.
He said: “There are only two tracks through that area and we couldn’t use them initially until Network Rail engineers had made their assessment in terms of what had made the train break down.
“This reduced line capacity caused a backlog during rush hour, which became so large we had to start cancelling trains.”
However, Mr Meades said that they would be taking a full review into the situation.
“One of the things we are committed to with any major incident is to always have a thorough review.
“We apologise to customers for the delays and disruption that affected our mainline services between London, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich yesterday evening.”
According to statistics, 91.4pc of Abellio Greater Anglia’s journeys were on time from May 24, 2013 to the same date in 2014.
Journeys are recorded as on time when they reach their destination within five minutes of their intended time for commuter services, and 10 minutes for long-distance services.
More than £430m has been invested in improving and expanding Britain’s rail network in East Anglia over the last 12 months,
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We are sorry about the delays that affected mainline services from Liverpool Street to Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich yesterday evening. We will be carrying out a thorough review into the incident with Abellio Greater Anglia to help avoid it happening again.”
Were you affected by the delays? What do you think is to blame? Contact reporter Lauren Cope at email@example.com