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Greater Anglia summoned by Suffolk councillors to explain rail chaos

PUBLISHED: 16:30 16 January 2020

Greater Anglia is to be called in by Suffolk County Council to explain the problems with its new trains. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Greater Anglia is to be called in by Suffolk County Council to explain the problems with its new trains. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Archant

Bosses from Greater Anglia are being invited to Suffolk County Council to explain what has happened during the difficult roll-out of their new trains over the winter.

Mark Bee was forced to drive from Beccles to Ipswich because of this week's rail problems. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILMark Bee was forced to drive from Beccles to Ipswich because of this week's rail problems. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

They are being asked to attend the May meeting of the county's scrutiny committee, which will be looking at how the company dealt with the introduction of the new regional trains.

By the time the meeting is held, it should have also completed the introduction of the new Intercity trains on services between the region and London.

Scrutiny committee chairman Mark Bee said: "I think we need to discuss what has happened and to try to find out what went wrong. By the time the meeting is held, they should be able to provide some answers."

This week's problems on the East Suffolk line have compounded the sense of concern - Thursday was the fourth morning this week when the busiest morning rush-hour train of the day, the 7.27am from Lowestoft, did not run because it was unable to get out of Greater Anglia's Crown Point depot in Norwich.

Mr Bee, who represents the Beccles division at Endeavour House, was one of those caught out on Monday morning when three peak-time trains were cancelled because of problems with getting access to Crown Point.

He said: "I was due to travel down to meetings in Ipswich on Monday morning and I was at (Beccles) station when the news came through that the trains were cancelled, so I had to get in my car and drive to Ipswich.

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"Someone on the platform recognised me and said: 'Mr Bee, what can you do about these trains?' and I know there are many people really frustrated about the service.

"We were already planning to ask Greater Anglia to come along to talk about their plans for the region - not just the East Suffolk Line but others too - but we decided it was right to get on and put this in the diary."

The meeting is expected to be held during the first half of May. A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said they would hope to attend - and that by then the new trains should be working well.

The spokeswoman added that the firm is working hard to solve the continuing problems on the East Suffolk line.

"We are very sorry to have inconvenienced customers again by cancelling the 7.27am Lowestoft-Ipswich service this morning," she said.

"This was due to the designated train not leaving the depot on time. We arranged a rail replacement bus service so that customers were still able to complete their journey.

"We are taking action to improve every aspect of our train service performance, and we are already seeing progress. We will make every effort to ensure that this service will run tomorrow.

"Anyone affected should contact us for compensation through our Delay Repay scheme."

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