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2000-11-16 ANG-001
Anglia Railways


A message to customers

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Anglia Railways
Great Eastern Main Line

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Anglia Railways

A message to customers

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2000-10-20 Disruption to services, Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd October (Anglia Railways)


16 November 2000
source Anglia Railways
type Press release

Dear Customer

I am extremely sorry that you are currently experiencing such a poor level of service. We are facing an exceptional set of circumstances that we have never encountered before.

The issues concerning the need to impose speed restrictions are complex, both from the technical nature of the track problem that Railtrack has identified, and the consequential effect on our ability to operate our usual frequency and journey time for our mainline services.

This has led to a situation that is deeply frustrating for everyone and I thought it would prove helpful to summarise the issues that we are currently facing.

Gauge corner cracking and the need to revise the timetable

Railtrack believe that the cause of the accident at Hatfield was a broken rail, which was probably the result of a condition known as gauge corner cracking. This condition creates tiny surface cracks in the rail and in extreme cases can cause the rail to break. The cause of gauge corner cracking is thought to be a pattern of wear caused by the action of train wheels on the rails.

As a precautionary safety measure, Railtrack has imposed speed restrictions on the Norwich to London mainline while inspections of the track are carried out and rerailing work takes place. In areas where possible evidence of gauge corner cracking has been identified, reducing the speed of trains dramatically reduces the force on the rail - hence the need to impose speed restrictions until or while the track work is completed.

The amount of speed restrictions has necessitated the need for Anglia Railways to implement a temporary revised timetable with less trains and much slower journey times. This in itself has presented a number of major challenges for our team. We have had to completely re-plan the timetable over a period of less than 3 weeks, when that process usually takes up to 18 months. The inefficiency of this timetable means that it takes more trains and traincrew to operate a less-intensive service.

All our systems that support the overall provision of your train service are linked to the normal timetable database. These include information systems on stations, management of Commuter Club records and the provision of seat reservations. Inevitably, this has meant the delivery of those services has suffered, as has on-train quality, because of much tighter turn-round times at stations, affecting our usual response to cleaning and non-essential maintenance. Consequently, the ability to respond to other delays or problems is that much more difficult. Our job is to minimise the effect of such delays, and to do everything possible to provide a robust temporary timetable.

What we’ve done so far

We’ve introduced the revised timetable - a special leaflet is available at stations. It is by no means perfect, but until Railtrack are able to remove some of the speed restrictions, it provides the best means of delivering the service, given the current unprecedented set of circumstances.

We’re grateful for your feedback and we’ve tried to offer a timetable that meets most needs, by limiting the number of cancelled trains to mainly off-peak services, providing additional stops and by endeavouring to operate trains with as many seats as possible.

The revised timetable means that it is simply not possible to maintain the normal connections with our local train services. Alternatives are listed in the temporary timetable. However, we are doing our utmost to manage local connections as well as we possibly can, and where it is not practical to ‘hold’ connections, we will do our best to provide alternative road transport where there is a lengthy wait for the next train.

Next moves

We are working with Railtrack and would hope to be able to improve the revised timetable soon, with a view to running more trains at a better journey time than at present. And of course, we are doing everything possible in our dialogue with Railtrack to stress the importance of restoring a full timetable service, as quickly as possible.

I will provide further updates on the situation, but we are being advised that a temporary timetable will operate until Christmas.

Thank you for your understanding

Anglia Railways has enjoyed an excellent relationship with all our customers over several years. During that time we have invested greatly in your train service during a period of unprecedented growth for rail travel in the region. At all times we have worked to improve rail services in East Anglia. It is, therefore, even more disappointing that we are facing these difficulties.

We are aiming to restore our full service quickly and in the meantime, you have my assurance that everyone in the Anglia Railways team is wholly focussed on the provision of a consistent and reliable temporary timetable over the next few weeks.

Can I personally thank you for your calm and considered manner during this difficult time. This is deeply appreciated by myself, and all of my team – particularly those engaged in the provision of customer service on trains and at stations. The on-going delays and cancellations have caused a great deal of frustration. For the vast majority this has been borne with understanding and patience. In a very few instances, this frustration has resulted in a degree of verbal abuse to those people who are trying to provide a service, under sometimes difficult circumstances. This is clearly unacceptable and once again, I thank those of you who may have intervened on such occasions, and for your continued support.

Finally, thank you for your continued custom and I very much look forward, like you, to the restoration of our normal service.

Yours faithfully,

Tim Clarke
Managing Director
Anglia Railways

Railhub Archive ::: 2000-11-16 ANG-001


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