Witham MP challenges Network Rail over response to rail disruption
Witham MP, Priti Patel, has challenged Network Rail over its response to the disruption experienced by passengers at London Liverpool Street last week [week commencing 11 June 2018].
Owing to a crack in a bespoke piece of track, services to and from London Liverpool Street were severely disrupted and Priti wrote to Network Rail to urge them to permanently fix the track as soon as possible. In their reply, Network Rail confirmed that ‘the piece of track in question had been identified as needing to be replaced in January’ and that ‘the track was expected to remain within the tolerable limits for wear until the new section could be installed [in October]’. However, the track weakened quicker than expected and a temporary fix was installed on the morning of Saturday 17 June allowing services to operate normally.
Following this reply, Priti remains concerned about some aspects of Network Rail’s response.
“It is unacceptable that Network Rail identified this track defect in January and that a temporary fix was not put in place immediately to ensure that the track did not deteriorate further. This raises significant safety concerns because train operators were still allowed to run their services over this section of track potentially putting passengers and train staff at risk.
“I have called on Network Rail to confirm how often this piece of track was monitored by engineers following the discovery of the defect and have also asked them to confirm that Greater Anglia, as the train operator, was immediately made aware of this defect so suitable precautions could be put in place to limit the risk of the track deteriorating further and to ensure the safety of passengers travelling along this route. The safety of passengers is paramount and it is concerning that services may have been able to run without proper safeguards in place.
“It is disappointing that this defect will not be permanently fixed until October and I am sure that all rail users will be astonished that it is taking so long for this piece of track to be constructed and installed. I have also called on Network Rail to confirm how regularly this temporary fix will be inspected in the coming months to ensure that it is safe for use and that the disruption seen last week will not occur again before the track is permanently fixed.”
Priti also contacted Greater Anglia last week to ensure that passengers are properly compensated for the disruption they experienced last week.