Tuesday 8 Jan 2013

Network Rail sets out response to challenges of growing railway in the east of England

  • Network Rail sets out biggest investment in infrastructure since the Victorian era
  • £2.2bn investment in the east of England to maintain and renew railway to boost capacity and deliver a more reliable service for passengers

Network Rail today committed to continuing the biggest investment in infrastructure since the Victorian era, reducing costs and delivering more passengers on time than ever before – but also warned that tough choices need to be made if the industry is to meet these competing challenges.

The company’s strategic business plan for the Anglia route, which has been submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), sets out proposals which will help drive the region’s economy and make its railway fit for the future. The ORR is set to publish its final determination on the plan in October 2013.

The business plan, covering the period from 2014 to 2019, maps out a programme of projects designed to maintain and improve an ageing infrastructure and schemes to reduce the cost of running the rail network. Network Rail will continue its commitment to minimise as much as possible the number of long weekend closures as it upgrades the network.

The railway in the east of England is only set to grow and is already full at peak times. Estimates show that between 8am and 9am - the busiest hour in the morning peak period - the number of passengers on the Great Eastern main line heading to Liverpool Street is set to increase by 49% by 2031, from 16,500 to 24,600. During the same period, the number of passengers is set to increase from 14,300 to 18,000 heading into Liverpool Street on the West Anglia main line.

More trains make more journeys than ever on the network, putting an ever increasing pressure on the infrastructure. In April 2004, National Express East Anglia (now Greater Anglia), ran 42,067 trains and in April 2012 Greater Anglia ran 48,378. While the schemes set out below will cater for growth in the coming years, there will be a need for new railway infrastructure in the long-term.

Dave Ward, Network Rail route managing director for the south east, said: “The railway is busier than it ever has been and passenger numbers continue to grow every year. As our railway gets busier the challenges get bigger and more complex. We have entered an era of trade-offs. Increasingly we have to balance the need to build more infrastructure, run trains on time and cut costs, and in many areas choices will need to be made.

"The plan we have set out will deliver real improvements to meet growing demand over the coming years and bring ageing parts of the network into the 21st century. By 2019, we will have renewed miles of overhead power lines and upgraded signalling and key junctions. This vital investment programme will pave the way for more services, new trains and a more reliable railway which supports and encourages economic growth across the east of England."

The main schemes benefiting the east of England are:

Crossrail and the Great Eastern main line

  • Completion of Crossrail will transform commuter services between Shenfield and London Liverpool Street, with upgrades to 13 stations on the Great Eastern main line between Shenfield and central London
  • Longer, more frequent Crossrail trains will provide more seats for commuters with new, direct services to central London and beyond to Heathrow Airport and the Thames Valley.
  • The new Crossrail station at Liverpool Street will free up surface platforms, providing opportunities for additional services from key commuter hubs on the Great Eastern main line during the busiest times of day
  • As part of the work to deliver increased capacity into Liverpool Street, which includes the remodelling of Bow Junction near Stratford, Network Rail will examine improvements to journey times on the Great Eastern main line
  • Track will be renewed between Liverpool Street and Norwich
  • Several sets of points on the Great Eastern main line and the West Anglia main line will be renewed

West Anglia

  • Remodelling Ely North Junction will relieve a key bottle neck on the West Anglia main line, enabling more passengers and freight services, including increasing the number of trains running between King's Lynn and London.
  • A third track from Stratford to Tottenham Hale will alleviate growing overcrowding on the busy Lea Valley line. A further extension of the new third track to Angel Road is under consideration.
  • The new third track would also help enable faster journey times to and from Stansted Airport. A line speed study is also underway to examine further improvements to journey times.
  • Although not part of the Anglia business plan, the Thameslink programme will provide passengers from Cambridge with new trains and more destinations.

Overhead line upgrade

  • The upgrade of outdated overhead power lines between London Liverpool Street and Chelmsford is set to be completed by May 2017, providing a more reliable service for passengers.
  • The next step is to renew overhead line equipment on the branch line to Southend, which also dates back to the 1950s
  • Network Rail will also renew the overhead lines from Cheshunt to Bishops Stortford and Hackney Downs to Cheshunt via Southbury

Modernising signalling across the region

  • A new rail operating centre (ROC) will open in Romford in 2014, which will eventually control the entire railway in the Anglia region, covering parts of London, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire
  • The railway between Norwich, Yarmouth and Lowestoft will be the first part of the route to have control migrated to the Romford ROC in 2016.
  • Norwich East and Cambridge will be controlled from the ROC in 2015 and 2016 respectively. 2016 also sees the first stages of Liverpool Street being recontrolled to the ROC. 2017 will see Colchester added to the ROC, along with the first stages of the North London Line

Level crossings

  • Network Rail will continue to improve safety at level crossings and focus on closing level crossings where possible as well as investing in new technology
  • Between 2014-2019, Network Rail plans to renew or upgrade 154 crossings across the region. Since 2009, Network Rail has closed more than 90 level crossings on the Anglia route

Third party proposed stations (subject to approval)

  • Beaulieu Park, Chelmsford
  • Cambridge Science Park
  • Soham
  • Lea Bridge station
  • Beam Park, near Rainham


  • We will continue to upgrade the cross-country route from Felixstowe to the West Midlands to provide more capacity for freight, relieving the congested Great Eastern main line and reducing the need for freight the need for freight to travel via London
  • New infrastructure will separate freight and passenger traffic as much as possible, avoiding congestion at key junctions such as Peterborough, Ipswich and Ely
  • This work includes the re-instatement of the double junction at Haughley Junction, Bury St Edmunds line speed improvements (2017), and a second track from Ely to Soham (2017)
  • Moving freight from road to rail will help cut congestion from the already busy A12 and A14 road

Gospel Oak to Barking

  • Network Rail would like to electrify the line between Gospel Oak and Barking, enabling freight trains from Tilbury and the new London Gateway Port (set to open in late 2013) to avoid the Great Eastern main line between Forest Gate Junction and Stratford
  • Two carriage diesel passenger services could be replaced by four-carriage electric trains, providing more seats for passengers

Notes to editors

Anglia route

The route covers two direct commuting routesinto the City of London, the densely populated areas to the north, east and west of London, the largest container port in the country at Felixstowe, the major cities of Cambridge and Norwich, but also the
rural countryside and market towns of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

The Great Eastern route, West Anglia route, North London Line and the Thameside routes from Shoeburyness to London are intense commuter routes into and around London, but also support a significant leisure market outside the peak and at weekends. The cross country routes between

Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough provide key links to the North and Midlands. The rural routes in Norfolk and Suffolk provide key links between the major towns and cities, and the coast at Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Cromer.

The Great Eastern main line runs from Liverpool Street to Norwich via Chelmsford and Ipswich. The West Anglia line runs from Liverpool Street, through the towns of Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Harlow, Bishop's Stortford and Audley End before reaching Cambridge, with two branches serving Hertford and Stansted Airport.

National figures

- One million more trains run every year than ten years ago, more passengers arrive on time than ever before and Network Rail's safety record is one of the best in Europe

- Nationally, today we carry almost 50% more passengers than 10 years ago
2002/03: 976m
2011/12: 1.46bn

The strategic business plan is a response to the government's announcement in the summer of 2012 outlining what they require the railway to deliver in 2014-2019.

Next steps
The next major steps in the process are:

June 2013: ORR publishes its draft determination on Network Rail's Strategic business plan and how much it thinks Network Rail needs to deliver what's required in CP5
October 2013: ORR publishes its final determination
March 2014: Network Rail's CP5 delivery plan published
1 April 2014: Control period 5 starts

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

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.

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