Thursday 27 Jul 2017
Major improvements on the Southend Victoria line fast-tracked
A £46m Network Rail project to improve reliability and reduce delays on the Southend Victoria branch line has been accelerated with overnight work to bring benefits to passengers sooner.
Overnight working was introduced in May this year to accelerate the programme and a total of 109 masts have been installed by Network Rail in the last two months. The masts will form structures that will carry 128km of new overhead wire when it is installed later in the year to reduce delays as part of the company’s Railway Upgrade Plan.
Last year, 143 masts were installed along the 22 mile route during weekend closures meaning that nearly half of the number of masts required are now fitted. Work on the first phase of the project will continue until mid-December.
Network Rail is replacing the old 1950s overhead wires with new wires that won’t sag in hot weather, increasing reliability all year round. The wires and structures that are currently in place form a system that 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 travel at their normal speed meaning fewer delays.
Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “This work is critical to making journeys more reliable between Southend Victoria and London as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan and we’ve made considerable progress in just two months. Getting started earlier in the evening has given us time to complete more work so passengers will benefit from a more reliable railway sooner. Work is ongoing and I urge those travelling in the late evening to check how their journey will be affected and thank passengers for their patience.”
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “While Network Rail engineers carry out this work, we have arranged a replacement bus service to make sure customers can complete their journeys. Together with Network Rail, we are modernising the railway in Essex. This work will improve the infrastructure and we are bringing in brand new trains with air conditioning, free fast wifi and plug and USB sockets. I know it’s inconvenient for customers while the work is carried out, but I hope they will agree it will be worth it in the long run.”
Passengers travelling between Southend Victoria and London Liverpool Street after 9:30pm Monday – Thursday are advised to check before they travel. A rail replacement bus service will be in place between Shenfield and Wickford, which takes just over 30 minutes and also calls at Billericay. The last train of the night is replaced with buses from Shenfield to Southend, with a direct or stopping service departing Shenfield at 01.25. A replacement bus service will also run from Wickford to London Liverpool Street, departing at 23.27. Extra staff are on hand to help customers get from the train to the bus.
The work will not take place when West Ham United play at home and during the World Championships in Athletics, so train services will run on those days.
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 36,000 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.