Package of essential rail works starts this month to improve reliability between Norwich and London: Colchester Essex Track Replacement

Wednesday 1 Sep 2021

Package of essential rail works starts this month to improve reliability between Norwich and London

Region & Route:
Eastern: Anglia

Network Rail will carry out essential track and maintenance works between Marks Tey and Chelmsford on the busy London to Norwich main line on some weekends in September, October and November.

Preparatory works will take place on Sunday 5 September and the main work will take place on the following dates:

  • Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 September
  • Saturday 2 October
  • Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 October
  • Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 October
  • Sunday 31 October
  • Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 November
  • Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 November

The work is essential to keep services running on the busy main line and includes:

  • Maintenance works to the switches and crossings units to keep them in good working order
  • Removing track defects to prevent delays from track issues
  • Track, signalling and overhead line maintenance works
  • High output ballast cleaning work to improve drainage and support the track bed

Keeping the track in good condition is essential for the safe and reliable running of rail services. The busier the network, the more worn track becomes over time. Engineers keep on top of repairs and maintenance throughout the year to prevent delays caused by track issues. The switches and crossings units enable trains to change from one track to another which is essential for diverting rail traffic if there’s an issue ahead, to minimise delays.

The stones that make the track bed are called ballast and it is essential for keeping the track stable, prevents growth of vegetation and allows water to drain away to keep the sleepers dry. Over time, the ballast wears down and fine pieces of granite, like sand, are created when the stones rub together as trains pass. This all sticks together when combined with water, turning the ballast into a lump of concrete which hinders drainage and the flexibility of the ballast to constrain the track as it moves under traffic. Ballast cleaning removes the worn ballast, screens it and replaces the old ballast with new angular ballast. This helps prevent delays caused by flooding, landslips and track issues.

Other routine track, signalling and overhead line maintenance works have also been scheduled to make the most of the closure.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “This package of work is essential to keep services running safely and reliably between Norwich and London and to minimise delays. I advise passengers to check before they travel and thank everyone for their patience while we carry out this important work.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director, said: “This track maintenance work will help to improve punctuality and performance along this key part of our network.

“We will be running a rail replacement bus service while the work takes place, so customers will be able to complete their journeys. Passengers should check before they travel, allow more time for their journey and wear a face covering when travelling by train or rail replacement bus and at our stations.

“We have several measures in place to keep customers safe including regular cleaning and sanitisation of trains and stations, and high levels of face covering compliance.

“We would like to thank customers for their patience while this work takes place.”

The work affects passengers travelling on Greater Anglia services between Colchester and Chelmsford. Passengers are advised to check before they travel at or

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

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