October 23 2014 Latest news:
by Laura Burnip
Monday, August 18, 2014
Under-pressure train bosses have apologised to customers and vowed to take “urgent action” to improve the much maligned service.
In a joint statement published on the Abellio Greater Anglia website on Friday, managing director Jamie Burles and Network Rail Anglia managing director Richard Schofield said they were “genuinely sorry” for the problems affecting train services in recent weeks.
But after first appearing on Friday, the statement appeared to have been removed from the website today.
Two weeks ago the Recorder reported that commuters had faced nearly 2,000 hours of delays in just seven days on the Liverpool Street to Shenfield line.
Friday’s statement said the service had been “well below the standards you rightly expect and we intend to deliver”, and blamed problems on infrastructure failures, engineering problems, train faults, fatalities, flooding and vehicles crashing into bridges.
Mr Burles and Mr Schofield said they were “acutely aware of the frustration and inconvenience” felt by passengers.
A plan of action was detailed which included fixing infrastructure faults more quickly, investing in maintenance for points, signalling and level-crossings and removing trees and plants from the sides of the tracks – including on third party land.
The pair also said they would improve planning and contingency for engineering work, invest in tackling the main causes of train faults – doors, couplers and pantographs – and speed up the fitting of remote monitoring equipment to trains to help identify potential faults before they happen.
The plan also includes trialling stand-by buses at “key locations” such as Bishop’s Stortford, Witham, Ipswich and Norwich.
They said improvements had already been made, such as using a train with a rooftop camera to look for faults and problems.
And the statement said “improved customer information procedures” to provide better information during disruptions were being implemented, with more customer information staff working during the morning and evening peak times and a software upgrade programme underway at London Liverpool Street.
“Please accept our apologies for the recent problems. We are under no illusion as to the impact these problems have had on passengers and we are anxious to put things right,” said the statement.
“We believe that this targeted programme of initiatives will help restore the more consistent service we all want to see.
“Everyone in our teams is working as hard as possible to deliver real improvements over the coming weeks.”
Asked why the statement was no longer available on the Greater Anglia website, a spokeswoman said it had initially been put on the homepage “so everyone can see it” and would return to a “permanent position” on the website.
The statement has since reappeared on the site.