Wednesday 2 Sep 2009


Region & Route:
Eastern: Anglia
| Eastern

The final piece of work on Network Rail’s £104m upgrade of the railway in east Essex was successfully completed over the bank holiday weekend, heralding more reliable journeys for millions of passengers on both the busy Clacton branch line and the Great Eastern main line.

The last piece of the jigsaw included the commissioning of new ‘bi-directional’ signalling on the Great Eastern main line between Colchester and Marks Tey – meaning trains can now travel in both directions on both lines. This allows them to bypass problems should they occur and will improve flexibility and help reduce delays.

Major upgrades have already completed on the branch lines to Colchester Town, Clacton and Walton-on-the-Naze as part of the project. Obsolete searchlight signals – a throw back to the 1960s when they were originally installed – have been replaced with 170 modern LED signals and eight level crossings have been upgraded to full barrier crossings with CCTV control.

Control of the branch lines has been handed over to the newly extended and modernised signal box at Colchester, where Network Rail signallers now control the movement of trains and operate level crossings using state-of-the-art visual display units.

Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail route director for Anglia, said: “The infrastructure on this part of the railway was like a classic car – unique, but becoming unreliable and expensive to maintain. Thanks to our investment, passengers in this part of Essex will be among the first to benefit from Network Rail’s nationwide programme to upgrade signalling equipment and make the railway safer and more reliable.

“Signal boxes and level crossings might not seem particularly exciting but the investment we’ve made here will make a real difference to passengers.”

Major improvements made as part of the project include:

  • Resignalling of the branch lines to Colchester Town, Clacton and Walton-on-the-Naze, replacing fifty-year-old signals with new LED signals
  • Installation of bi-directional signalling between Colchester and Marks Tey on the main line
  • Upgrades to eight level crossings, converting them to manually-controlled barriers operated from Colchester signal box using CCTV
  • New control system installed at modernised Colchester signal box, including visual display screens

Notes to editors

In more detail, the primary items of scope which form part of this major resignalling project are as follows: • The renewal of the life-expired signalling infrastructure on the Great Eastern main line from Marks Tey to Colchester and on the branch lines to Colchester Town, Clacton (Clacton Signal Box remains) & Walton-on-Naze • Control of the branch has been transferred to Colchester Power Signal box. Two signal boxes have been closed - East Gates and Thorpe-Le-Soken • The area has been resignalled using SSI technology (six new SSI interlockings will be commissioned) throughout, utilizing track circuit train detection • Seven gated level crossings have been converted to MCB-CCTV. These are Chitts Hill, Alresford, Coach Road, Thorrington, Gt Bentley, Frinton and Burrs Road • East Gates level crossing has been renewed and control transferred to Colchester Power Signal Box as a MCB-CCTV level crossing • Bi-directional signaling has been commissioned from Marks Tey to Colchester North Station and from Colchester to East Gates on the Down Avoiding line • The Control System is a ‘Modular Control System (MCS) Visual Display Unit (VDU)’ type replacing the old NX Panel system.

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 - South East route
020 3357 7969

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.

Usually, there are almost five 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.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: