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
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Every day, there are more than 4.7 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.
We are building a better railway for a better Britain.