TRAINS could be completely shut down to speed up improvement works for Colchester commuters, it has been suggested.

Bosses at Network Rail have said they have not ruled out taking the approach after continuous weekend work on the London to Norwich line has seen overrun engineering works and rail replacement bus services.

If it goes ahead, the plan could see the train line completely shut down for a small period of time or services operate on less track.

Yesterday, Network Rail revealed its plans for the rail line from 2019 to 2024, with an emphasis placed on improving existing track.

Kate Snowden, press officer, said shutting down the line was ‘part of the discussion’.

However, Derek Monnery, chairman of Essex Rail Users’ Federation, said a total shutdown would not need to be considered if the work had been carried out earlier.

He said: “They have mentioned this to us before.

“There are a lot of people who work weekends and are fed up with weekend closures because it adds an hour each way to their journey.

“It’s just so frustrating. Our railway has been so run down that people are just leaving it in droves. It has been left this way for too long.

“To add insult to injury they put the fares up by 3 per cent in January, which was a red rag to a bull.

“Commuters have had enough.”

Commuters between London and Norwich have been forced to endure endless delays recently as Network Rail undertakes necessary work to improve the track and signals.

It is hoped the work will speed up future services and make them more reliable.

However, it is the first time a total shutdown to speed up the work has been mentioned.

Closing the line or restricting it would not be without precedent.

London Waterloo, which has 19 platforms, managed on just four when bosses decided to shut it down to speed up improvement works to the station last summer.

Mr Monnery said he had a meeting with MPs next week to discuss Network Rail’s latest plans.

The Gazette contacted Network Rail but no one replied in time for press.