A large tortoise on the track caused trains to come to a halt and be delayed for a number of hours in southeast England.

The Greater Anglia rail company reported that afternoon trains between the city of Norwich and Stansted Airport were stopped for more than an hour due to a "giant tortoise".

The operator first announced the line was blocked by "animals on the line", with a number of passengers given seats on alternative routes free of charge.

One passenger on a train to Norwich, Diane Akers, said she couldn't believe her eyes when she saw the tortoise.

She posted a photo on Twitter of the tortoise standing on the track, reporting to the train company: "it's still alive but injured".

The injured tortoise on the track Photo credit: Diane Akers

The tortoise's shell appeared to have a large gash on top of its shell.

A Greater Anglia customer adviser later wrote that the tortoise was injured and had been taken to a specialist team for treatment.

"We have been informed that he will make a full recovery," the adviser updated.

One passenger, Lydia Jane White, tweeted: "'Train delayed because of a giant tortoise, too heavy to lift, stuck on the train tracks after having escaped from a local wildlife centre' is not something I thought I'd ever hear from a train driver!".

The railway line reopened around 1.5 hours later, while knock-on delays were predicted.

The delay came after UK passengers had experienced several days of train strikes as railway employees' trade unions demand pay rises reflective of inflation.