Employers 'refusing to consider' Abellio Greater Anglia commuters, MP says

Commuters stuck at London Liverpool Street Image copyright Jon Ashton
Image caption London commuters experienced many hours of delays on Tuesday after a signal fault in Essex

Some employers are "refusing to consider" applicants commuting on the Great Eastern Main Line because of reliability issues, an MP has said.

Colchester MP Will Quince has asked the transport committee to investigate the train route operated by Abellio Greater Anglia in the East of England.

"There is a very real risk to jobs from these continuing problems," he said.

The train operator apologised to customers for recent delays and said it was working to "improve performance".

The company received complaints on Tuesday afternoon when a signal problem closed the line between Chelmsford and Witham for more than three hours.

'Unreliability of service'

"Poor rail conditions" also led to some trains suffering "wheel damage" in recent weeks, the company said, with some routes shut due to problems caused by leaves on train lines.

In a letter published on Twitter, Mr Quince said: "I have received reports that some employers are refusing to consider applicants who commute in using Abellio Greater Anglia given the unreliability of the service".

He said he had been alerted to the issue by recruitment consultants and constituents but "was bound by confidentiality" from disclosing further details.

Image copyright Conservative Party
Image caption Colchester MP Will Quince said there was a "very real risk to jobs" because of reliability issues

Mr Quince said his own researcher was caught up in the resulting delays.

"He experienced signal failures between Chelmsford and Witham, a tree falling on the overhead line at Ingatestone, the 20:30 Liverpool Street to Norwich breaking down at Kelvedon, and the 20:38 Liverpool Street to Colchester Town experiencing technical problems at Witham," he said.

"Unfortunately, this level of disruption is all too common."

The Conservative MP, who is a member of the transport select committee, wrote to its chair Louise Ellman to formally requesting an emergency session on "recent service issues".

He cites other examples of recent issues including congestion due to late-running freight trains, delays due to wet leaves on the track and cancellations due to staff shortages.

Image caption Train operator Greater Anglia apologised for recent disruption and said it was working to get more investment

David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce, said he was not aware of any businesses adopting the policy but agreed improvements must be made.

He said: "We do completely agree that services on the Great Eastern Main Line are in need of improvement. As members of the Great Eastern Rail Taskforce we fully support objectives to see major improvements to both the rolling stock and rail infrastructure on the line, which we hope will alleviate many of the issues."

In response to Mr Quince's concerns, a Greater Anglia spokesman said the company was working with stakeholders and politicians to make the case for the investment needed for improvements.

Network Rail apologised for Tuesday's disruption and said £170m was being invested this year on the line between London and Norwich.

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