DELAYS to hundreds of commuters on the Greater Anglia train line could have been down to birds striking power lines.
Train passengers were stranded at Wickford station after services were cancelled between there and Southend Victoria at 5pm on Tuesday.
Engineers from Network Rail worked at the scene, around Rayleigh, and repaired the fault to get trains running again in both directions by 7.30pm.
Abellio Greater Anglia, which runs the Southend Victoria to London Liverpool Street line, tweeted shortly after 8pm on Tuesday: “We believe it was a bird strike.”
The overhead lines on the route have not been replaced since they were first installed in the Fifties and the incident comes just two weeks after Greater Anglia was forced to cancel trains for 30 hours due to line problems in a similar area.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We believe it was a strike which damaged the overhead lines.
“If an object strikes the overhead lines, this can short circuit them, which can damage them and then repairs have to be carried out.
“We inspect the overhead lines for any issues every four to eight weeks and if we spot any problems, repairs will be carried out.
“We are very sorry for the overhead line problems which caused delays to passengers travelling between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria.
“We are acutely aware of the frustration and inconvenience felt by passengers when things go wrong and are investing around £30million on the line between Shenfield and Southend Victoria to upgrade the overhead lines to deliver a more consistent service.”
The upgrades began in December, but are not expected to be completed until 2019.
Passengers stranded at Wickford complained of a lack of information from Greater Anglia staff, but the firmsaid customers were informed as soon as possible.
A spokesman for Abellio Greater Anglia said: “We apologise to our customers for the delays that affected Southend Victoria line services.
“Network Rail engineers attended the problem with the overhead power lines quickly and as soon as we received information on the progress of the repairs and restoration of services, we communicated that to customers.
“When such a problem occurs ,it does take time to implement alternative travel arrangements and we understand passengers’ frustrations when services are delayed.
“We are working closely with Network Rail to further improve train service performance, reliability and communication.”
Search for 18 new rail apprentices
NETWORK Rail is looking to recruit apprentices to help upgrade lines in Essex.
The authority wants to recruit 18 young people from the east of England for its apprenticeship scheme as it continues the largest investment in the railway since Victorian times.
The scheme caters for anyone over the age of 17 and there are 200 places available this year.
Ian Iceton, human resources director for Network Rail, said: “We’re investing £38billion into upgrading and improving the railways, so there’s never been a better time to join us.
“Our apprentices earn while they learn, gain top quality qualifications and are part of a 35,000 strong team helping people safely take more than 1.5 billion journeys every year.
“I urge anyone who is interested in building a career where you can make a real difference to apply to be a Network Rail apprentice today.”
The scheme provides on-the-job training and the 18 apprentices would work at Network Rail’s Ipswich, Tottenham or Romford depots.
For more information, visit networkrail.co.uk/apprentices
Claim via new app
A NEW app has been created to make it easier for disgruntled rail passengers to claim compensation.
The Train Claim app enables users of iOS devices to claim delay compensation for situations, such as Tuesday’s disruption, in just a few clicks.
The app’s creator tweeted: “We encourage people to claim as often as possible.”
The app is available for iOS devices and will soon be rolled out for Android.
For more information, visit appstore/gb/VBMy5