A bigger and better railway for passengers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex following key upgrades over bank holiday: Brentwood wiring train

Tuesday 29 Aug 2017

A bigger and better railway for passengers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex following key upgrades over bank holiday


New overhead wire was installed at Brentwood this weekend, to improve reliability on the main line between Norwich and London as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan.

Network Rail’s orange army carried out the equivalent of 3,000 hours of work on Sunday 27 and Monday 28 August to replace 1km of overhead wire at Brentwood as part of a £250m project to upgrade the wiring system on the busy mainline. The wires and structures that are currently in place were installed in the 1950s and the system is one of the oldest in the country. When the weather gets hot, the wires sag and speed restrictions have to be imposed to protect them from damage by trains. The new wires are controlled by a system of weights, to keep them taut at all times, so trains can pass at their normal speed meaning fewer delays.

A further 1,500 hours were spent installing structures at Ilford and Manor Park which will carry new overhead wires when they are installed next year.

Vital upgrades were also made between Shenfield and London Liverpool Street as part of the Crossrail programme, where over 200 metres of track was installed at Pudding Mill Lane near Stratford station to prepare for the connection of the Elizabeth line tunnel to the main line. Improvements will also be made at stations between Shenfield and London Liverpool Street. When complete, the Elizabeth Line will increase London’s rail capacity by 10% and bring 1.5 million extra people within 45 minutes of central London.

Simon Ancona, Network Rail’s chief operating officer for Anglia, said: “We have carried out a package of work this bank holiday as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. These upgrades will provide essential reliability improvements on the main line into London. We have installed new overhead wire at Brentwood which will mean fewer delays and completed key upgrades as part of the Crossrail programme, which will transform the way people travel across London. I’d like to thank passengers for their understanding while we carried out this essential work.”

Jamie Burles, managing director at Greater Anglia, said: “Engineering works are vital for ourselves and Network Rail to provide a better railway for everyone for future generations to come. New overhead wires means our trains should be able to run a speed during hot weather.”

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About Network Rail

Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.

About the Railway Upgrade Plan

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:

  • longer, faster more frequent trains;
  • better, more reliable infrastructure; and
  • better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.

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