Passengers hit out at week of train delays - but end is now in sight, says Greater Anglia
PUBLISHED: 10:32 15 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:09 16 December 2019
Greater Anglia/Laura Westhorpe/Andy Ellson
Passengers left shivering on dark platforms for trains which have never arrived described today how the mass cancellations were ruining their school, home and work lives.
At least 80 services have been cancelled every day this week on the rural lines in Norfolk and Suffolk.
Greater Anglia blamed signal failures caused by problems with the track circuits, made worse by autumn weather.
But on Friday they said they hoped to run a normal service from Monday.
Mark Budden, Network Rail Anglia Route Director and Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director said: "We are very sorry for the disruption customers on our rural routes have experienced this week. We know how frustrating poor service is and we're working hard to restore them. Today we have been able to put in more services and from Monday we aim to restore a full service on all routes except Norwich to Sheringham and Ipswich to Peterborough.*
"We are running a series of rigorous tests to identify the root cause of the problems, including examining the impact of leaf contamination, the level crossing mechanisms and how trains' wheels connect with the track signalling system.
"We're very sorry for letting our passengers down and promise them we are determined to restore the good service they deserve as quickly as we can."
The Norwich to Sheringham service will run as normal but with a bus between Cromer and Sheringham, they said.
Sinead Merron's son Max travels from Sheringham to Norwich School each day on the Bittern Line.
But the 17-year old now has to be driven on a two-hour round trip twice a day just to get to lessons.
"It's a complete joke," Mrs Merron, 48, said. "So many lessons have been lost and children's attendance records get tarnished for constant late check-ins.
"The funny thing is we've been waiting for a new platform to be built at Sheringham for the new trains. We've now got that but no trains. It is just a disaster."
Andy Ellson, 59, who travels to work in Norwich on the train from Acle each morning, has now given up on his monthly ticket and drives instead.
"My stress levels are raised every day due to Greater Anglia," Mr Ellson added. "As a commuter of 18 years, it has never been so bad."
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Paul Anderson, 42, from Bury St Edmunds, has written a letter to Greater Anglia complaining that his work hours have "ballooned" because of the delays.
He said his commutes to Norwich now take so long he can watch the whole of Lord of the Rings during a journey.
In the letter he wrote: "I have spent hardly any time with my family. I am being delayed for work. Everyone is suffering.
"It's not just the passengers you are letting down, it is their families, their businesses, and their health."
Elaine Reynolds said her 12-year old son Aston had been left stranded at Hoveton station for hours.
"He was late to school every day last week," she said. "We will get a message saying the train will be delayed by about 20 minutes. He goes to station waiting in awful weather and 45 minutes later the train still has not turned up."
Nick Bishop, 18, from North Walsham, works at a hotel in Norwich but keeps showing up late and getting home late because of the cancellations.
"My boss is luckily understanding, but it can only go on for so long before it starts to impact with work," he said. "Station staff give no information to passengers at all and I'm stuck because I have no alternative to using them."
Laura Holyland's son Nathan, 14, started at the University Technical College Norfolk, on Old Hall Road, Norwich, in September.
To get in from North Walsham each day she buys him a £75 monthly ticket but he can hardly use it at the moment.
"My son has suffered multiple late marks at school," she said. "None of this has been his fault. I am extremely disappointed and angry with the lack of service and acknowledgment from them that they are failing to provide the service they sell."
The 38-year old is now having to arrange lifts for her son or take him in herself around work.
"This week has been awful," she said.
Chris Preston, meanwhile, uses the Norwich to Cambridge line for work, paying £3,500 for his season ticket.
"I find the trains extremely unreliable but the current situation beats anything I have ever seen before," the 56-year old from Thorpe St Andrew said.