Abellio Greater Anglia: Services affected by suicides over 8,000

Media caption,
The train operator on the rail line between London and Norwich is working with the Samaritans to identify people at risk

Suicides on the line between Norwich and London affected more than 8,000 services in 2014, MPs have been told.

Under Secretary of State for Transport Claire Perry was answering East Anglian MPs' questions on service performance.

Network Rail said suicides had stayed at about 30 a year since 2009 but delays in minutes lost had fallen from 40,000 to an average of 30,000.

Train operator Abellio Greater Anglia has started an initiative with the Samaritans.

The charity is training station staff to deal with people suspected of attempting suicide.

Platform gates and blue lighting, pioneered as a successful deterrent in Japan, are also being introduced.

Ms Perry said: "Suicides are a tragedy for the families involved, and they are an awful tragedy for the drivers and other staff.

"Abellio Greater Anglia station staff have increased patrols and increased interventions, steering people away from this awful act."

Image caption,
Network Rail is to spend money on improving track conditions, overhead lines and signals

Addressing issues for performance, MPs were told average delays in services in minutes since early 2012 had fallen by 23% but Ms Perry, the MP for Devizes, said more improvement was needed.

Network Rail said it was replacing problem junctions and rails at the tight curves on the approach to Liverpool Street station.

"All that will improve reliability and sustainability," she said.

Speaking for commuters and other rail users on the line, the Conservative MP for Chelmsford Simon Burns said it was very frustrating to pay nearly £4,000 for an annual season ticket and not be able to get to a place of work.

In December the line saw continual problems caused by overrunning engineering works and freight train breakdowns, he said.

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