More reliable train services on the Southend Victoria line as first new overhead wires installed: IMG 1806

Tuesday 26 Sep 2017

More reliable train services on the Southend Victoria line as first new overhead wires installed


The first new overhead wires were installed on the Southend Victoria branch line this weekend, as part of a £46m programme, meaning fewer delays and improved reliability for passengers travelling to and from London.

Network Rail engineers installed just over 1km of wire between Shenfield and Billericay. This marks the start of work to install 128km overhead wire on the whole line, and reliability will increase with every new wire installed.

The wires and structures that are currently in place form a system that is one of the oldest in the country, having been installed in the 1950s. When the weather gets hot, the old 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 and more reliable train services all year round.

This video shows the new wire being installed.


Engineers have been working during evenings and overnight since May this year to accelerate the programme. This has enabled engineers to install over 100 structures ready to take the new overhead wire a year earlier than would have been possible without this extra mid-week access.

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “We recognise the issues our Southend passengers face in summer when services are delayed because of sagging overhead wires. We’re installing a new overhead wiring system to improve the reliability of train services as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan and we’ve fast-tracked the work so passengers can start seeing the benefits as soon as possible. I’d like to thank passengers for their continued patience while we carry out this vital upgrade to improve journeys to and from London.” 

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director said: “It’s great to see that Network Rail is making such good headway in improving the railway for future generations. With these new overhead wires, combined with our brand new trains coming, together we are transforming the Southend line. We know people would rather stay on the train until their destination, but during engineering works, we will always make sure that customers can complete their journeys, even if part of it is by bus.”

Work will continue mid-week to install structures between Shenfield and Wickford until 6 November and more wire will be installed over a series of weekends until the end of October. Rail replacement services will be in place and passengers are advised to check before they travel at or


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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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