Commuters were offered the hope of an improvement in running times of trains beginning yesterday (Tuesday).

Restrictions have been in place since the fatal Hatfield rail crash more than six months ago and rail passengers have faced both major and minor delays but now further steps are being taken in the move back to normality.

Now Railtrack has announced it is to lift some of the restrictions imposed in the wake of the disaster, which have been as far-reaching as Colchester, Clacton, Chelmsford and Witham.

It means rail users travelling in and out of London will find life is a bit easier from now on.

Residents travelling to London from north and mid-Essex have faced delays ranging between five minutes and an hour but Great Eastern has now announced the extra time it added on to take the restrictions into consideration would now be reduced to five minutes per service.

Railtrack spokesman Peter Maynard said they would reduce waiting times between London and Ipswich from six minutes to two-and-a-half and between Ipswich and London from eight-and-a-half minutes to six.

"We are then working to continue reducing waiting times to keep in line with the next deadline for improvements by May 21," added Mr Maynard.

First Great Eastern said all its services would revert to their normal schedule on Monday, except for the mainline through Chelmsford and Colchester which is expected to revert back to normal by Monday, April 30.

Anglia Railways, which provides mainline connections between Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester and London, said it welcomed the news but was treating it with caution.

"We do not want to rush in and then find things have changed so we think a return to normal services by April 30 is a realistic date for us," said a spokesman.

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