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Anger as dozens of trains cancelled over Bank Holiday

PUBLISHED: 19:36 31 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:48 06 July 2010

Under fire rail firm National Express East Anglia cancelled dozens of services over the bank holiday weekend after suffering from a staffing shortage.

The rail operator was forced to make another apology to disgruntled passengers, just weeks after being derailed by industrial action by its workers.

Under fire rail firm National Express East Anglia cancelled dozens of services over the bank holiday weekend after suffering from a staffing shortage.

The rail operator was forced to make another apology to disgruntled passengers, just weeks after being derailed by industrial action by its workers.

More than 40 services were affected on Saturday, including trains between Ipswich and Norwich, London to Stansted Airport, and Cambridge to London.

NXEA initially posted a message on its website that services had been cancelled due to an “operating incident”.

However, a spokeswoman later revealed the cancellations were down to the “unavailability of staff” and apologised for the inconvenience.

She said: “We are working to arrange cover wherever we can. It is something that happens from time to time. It can take a small number of staff to cause cancellations due to short-notice sickness.”

“Extra trains were needed for the football match at White Hart Lane and there is the challenge of providing a work stream on the bank holiday weekend.”

The 9pm service from Norwich to Ipswich and the 10.10pm from Ipswich to Norwich were affected on Saturday. A Sunday schedule resumed yesterday , with additional early morning trains running on rural routes from Norwich to Cambridge, Sheringham, Yarmouth, and Lowestoft.

Neil Skinner, vice chairman of the Essex Rail Users' Federation, said there were still elements of disaffection left over from the dispute between unions and bosses at NXEA which appeared to have been settled earlier this month.

“The cynic in me is saying that staff are taking a long break over the weekend. Relations between staff and the company are not good as recent strikes have shown,” he said.

The RMT, Aslef and TSSA all but wiped out services with a strike on August 13. Less than 5pc of trains were able to run, but the 48-hour action was called off half-way through after NXEA caved in to their demands for better pay and conditions.

NXEA was also left red-faced last month after it took seven hours for around 100 passengers, including dozens of Norwich City fans, to arrive home in Norfolk on the last train from London. The 11.30pm service to Norwich broke down twice.

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