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NR recovery operation after Ely derailment set to cause more disruption

Network Rail has today been working to lift a derailed train off the track in Ely, which has been causing serious disruption over the last few days.

Eleven wagons of a freight train came off the tracks at Queen Adelaide near the Ely North junction on Monday, and has since blocked the line and caused issues for passengers.

A spokesperson for the infrastructure owner confirmed that nobody had been injured in the derailment, and operator Greater Anglia apologised to customers who had been affected by the disruption.

Today, NR confirmed that a major and complex programme of work is now underway to use a crane to lift the 11 freight wagons off the track and put the way of trains. The wagons will be moved onto the unused track and towed away one by one.

Ely Derailment

The view of the derailment from a distance

Network Rail also stated that passengers should be braced for more disruption, as the recovery operation is expected to take a number of days and almost a quarter of a mile of track needs to be replaced.

“We have an army of experts and specialist teams who are working day and night to remove the wagons as quickly as possible,” said Simon Ancona, the organisation’s chief operating officer for Anglia.

“Once they are out of the way we can replace the tracks, carry out the necessary repairs, reopen the line and get passengers on the move again. We expect to be able to reopen the line on Monday. I’d like to thank passengers for their continued patience.”

Ely’s derailment comes in the same week that a passenger train derailed at London Waterloo, causing chaos for passengers in the capital.

The incident affects passengers on CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains and Greater Anglia. Passengers can see how their journey is affected by visiting

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Andrew Gwilt   17/08/2017 at 03:11

More likely its going to be until Monday next week. Then services will be back to normal.

Huguenot   17/08/2017 at 10:30

So why did Greater Anglia terminate trains from Ipswich at Bury St Edmunds and not run through to Ely if the derailment was on the line towards Peterborough?

James Palma   17/08/2017 at 12:50

I was at an international conference of railway practitioners and academics recently. We discussed the interests of train operators and infrastructure maintainers. Namely, is it in the interests of an infrastructure manager to manage the railway, while another party runs trains, or is it better to have one body managing and running everything. This is a good example. IF and I do say IF, Greater Anglia were the vertically integrated asset manager for the railway AND train operator, would it really take this long to remove the derailment? I have to admit the arguments made at the conference really did make me think that if the train operator and the infrastructure manager/maintainer are the same body, there is much more interest in making sure the whole system works, rather than dependency on parties who have no interest in actually running the trains. In addition, I do not know if anyone is aware, but we are essentially running on the principles of the Stockton & Darlington Railway between 1825 and 1833, which the Liverpool and Manchester Railway did not use. Instead, the L&M operated the trains AND the network. the principle of vertical integration dating from the 1830s and lasting until the late 1940s so it could not have all been bad!! Therefore, is a return to the big 4 days a real option? Academic discussion, please, not ranting.

Chris Deviloma   17/08/2017 at 20:34

@James Palma. Agreed. It's a crazy system at the moment in this country (one party maintaining the track and one or more parties running the trains). However, you asked for academic discussion. Those in favour of competing train operators would argue the present system works best, yet only in the parts of the country where network density allows it. In East Anglia which suffered particularly badly in the railway cuts of the 20th century there aren't enough routes left to allow competition, hence we have just one train operator (Greater Anglia). From that point of view there could only be an advantage in one organisation looking after the track as well as running the trains.

John Grant   18/08/2017 at 12:47

@Hugenot: there's been discussion of that on a local group and theories include (a) Bury-P'boro is easier than Ely-P'boro by road (b) lack of space at Ely with the XC Stansted services and the Cambridge North - KGX terminating there as well. @James: surely BR was vertically integrated, too? I agree that the incentives may not be there to get the job done more quickly; it seems to have taken quite a while to get the crane on site, no doubt because keeping breakdown trains on standby isn't economic.

Len Muir   20/08/2017 at 16:37

Very interested to know if it was track defect or wagon bogie failure. Data recorder download may confirm speed and distance travelled by loco.

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