Major rail upgrades completed at Witham to make Norwich to London main line services more reliable: Track renewals at Witham-3

Monday 8 Oct 2018

Major rail upgrades completed at Witham to make Norwich to London main line services more reliable

Region & Route:

Major upgrades have been carried out at Witham, Essex to make the Norwich to London main line more reliable and resilient, meaning fewer delays for passengers.

When a track is old and worn and maintenance is too expensive or ineffective, Network Rail replaces it as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan. This involves removing the old tracks which includes the rails, sleepers and stones that make up the track bed, and replacing it with new.

 Over the last six weekends, engineers carried out the following work at Witham:

  • Replaced four crossover sections which allow trains to move from one track to another
  • Replaced over 780 metres of track
  • Replaced 5880tns of ballast, the stones that make up the track bed
  • Installed two new buffer stops
  • Installed new electrical systems for the points heaters ready for winter
  • Rebuilt 125m of platform one

This video shows the ballast being distributed - see notes for embed code.

The scale of the railway infrastructure and the growth in passenger numbers mean that Network Rail teams are always working on the tracks so that the rail network runs safely and efficiently. Some of this work can be carried out overnight, but larger projects like the one at Witham will result in a planned closure of the line in order to get the work done.

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “This work is essential to keep passengers moving on the busy main line as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. Installing new track makes the network more resilient to wear and defects which cause delays. I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while we carried out this important work.”

Further closures will take place throughout October and November. Passengers are advised to check before they travel at

Notes to Editors

Network Rail is responsible for looking after Britain’s rail network, including maintaining and renewing 20,000 miles of track.

When we talk about railway track, we mean the whole structure that trains run on, including:

  • Rails– these are the lengths of steel that are welded together.
  • Sleepers– these are supports for the rails.
  • Switches and crossings– these are moveable sections of track that guide trains from one track to another and allow them to cross paths. They have an especially limited lifespan because trains cause wear and deformation when they travel across them
  • Sets of points– these are mechanical systems that move the switches and crossings.

How we maintain tracks

Our daily maintenance processes include:

  • using tamper and ballast regulators to redistribute ballast – the stones beneath the track that give support – and compact it beneath the sleeper so that it maintains the track geometry
  • carrying out profile treatment to grind away part of the rail head – the top surface of the rail that the train’s wheels run on – to leave a clean surface for a smoother ride
  • monitoring our infrastructure by fitting measurement equipment to trains to identify flaws in the rail that need to be fixed.

Embed code for video:

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Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - Katie Mack
Media relations manager (Anglia route)
020 3356 2515

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 4.8 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.

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