Andrew Chivers, Managing Director of National Express East Anglia has responded to yesterday's delays as follows:
"...The project being undertaken involved the replacement of overhead line equipment (such as cables and support stanchions) as part of the major investment programme by Network Rail to renew the overhead lines between London and Chelmsford – a very important and necessary initiative to help further improve punctuality and reliability on the Norwich – Ipswich – Colchester – London and Southend – London routes.
We had worked closely with Network Rail on the planning for this blockade and on contingencies in the event of problems. When some complications emerged last week we coordinated with them to enable a revised engineering work plan to be implemented which was meant to have ensured the lines would have been re-opened as planned this morning. As late as 23.00 last night we were still being assured that a punctual restoration of the lines - and thus a smooth “start-up” for services this morning - was fully on course.
Unfortunately we were advised between 03.30 and 04.00 that this was not going to be the case. As soon as we were aware we put information on our website, advised the local media and provided information at stations and on trains where services were affected. In the end it was 07.45 before all the lines were open, which resulted in major delays for passengers due to arrive in London before 10.00. Those passengers who were delayed will be able to claim compensation in the normal way.
We are seeking a full explanation from Network Rail about the cause of the problems, why the contingency plans proved unsuccessful and why we only knew that the work would over-run in the early hours of this morning. We will also be seeking assurances from Network Rail that they are putting in place more robust and effective engineering work planning, particularly for major projects, as we have suffered in the past from damaging over-runs which have been extremely disruptive and frustrating for our customers and our company...."
It is the view of the Essex Rail Users Federation that NXEA's own contingency plans should have been implemented on Sunday rather than wait until the last possible moment to take action. This would have given passengers the opportunity to make alternative arrangements and it is hoped that such action will be taken in future.