Network Rail apologies for closing train lines for snow which didn't actually materialise

Network Rail has apologised to passengers after it closed rail lines in areas due to get heavy snow – but didn’t get any.

The company, which is responsible for maintaining tracks, announced on Monday that no trains would operate on Greater Anglia’s rural routes on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a limited service on main lines due to predicted weather conditions.

But the snow failed to materialise and while some fell in parts of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, the predicted heavy flurries fell further south in Kent.

Network Rail lifted the restrictions but couldn’t restore a full service until Wednesday, leaving many commuters’ journeys disrupted.

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Meliha Duymaz, route managing director for Network Rail Anglia, apologised to passengers who had endured difficult journeys on Tuesday, saying: “The forecasts all predicted heavy snow in our region, but for us it has not been as bad as anticipated, with the latest radar imagery showing the worst of the snow has fallen around 20 miles further south-east.

“We are now working with our train operating partners to restore as many services as we can and expect to be able to run a full service tomorrow.”

The apology came as it emerged that the cancellations could add to the millions of pounds rail companies receive each year in compensation.

Operators in England and Wales received £181 million from Network Rail for unplanned disruption in the 2016/17 financial year, but paid out just £74 million in compensation to delayed passengers.

Greater Anglia – which cancelled more than 200 trains in anticipation of the ‘Beast from the East’ – received £4.4 million during the period.

Public transport campaigners have called for automatic compensation to be introduced across the rail industry to make sure more passengers receive what they are entitled to.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Passengers see train operators profiting from delays and are rightly angry.

“What we need is automatic delay-repay, already run by some companies, rolled out across the system and for the Department of Transport (DfT) to stop blocking much needed fares reform.”

A spokesman for industry body the Rail Delivery Group said: “These payments are overseen by the rail regulator which says that they keep costs down for taxpayers and fare payers, and they are completely separate from the money customers rightly receive for delays.

“The payments compensate train operators for lost revenue when fewer people travel due to disruption and they encourage rail companies to work together to improve punctuality.”

(Top picture: PA)

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