Railway upgrade work to deliver significant improvements for passengers in London, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex: Installation of overhead gantries at Shenfield  239403

Monday 18 Jul 2016

Railway upgrade work to deliver significant improvements for passengers in London, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex

South East
  • Eight autumn weekends and the Christmas/New Year period affected
  • Passengers will benefit from fewer delays
  • Crossrail work to prepare for arrival of new trains from May 2017

Passengers travelling on the railway line between Norwich and London are being asked to check before they travel ahead of complex improvement work this autumn and winter to deliver vital railway upgrades for the Crossrail programme, and to remove long-standing heat related speed restrictions.

The work will provide substantial benefits for passengers all the way up to Norwich and starts on Saturday, 17 September. It will affect Abellio Greater Anglia and TfL Rail services into Liverpool Street for eight weekends over the autumn period, followed by a further 10 days over the Christmas and New Year period. 

The programme of work includes:

  • The complete remodelling of a key junction at Shenfield to help deliver more reliable journeys for passengers travelling from London to Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich by May 2017. These improvements will enable passenger and freight trains to travel through the area more freely, reducing the risk of delays to other services.
  • Work to replace more overhead wires between Shenfield and London Liverpool Street. This £250m project will improve reliability and significantly reduce the impact of heat-related disruption during the summer when overhead wires sag and speed restrictions are imposed.
  • Crossrail construction work continues at stations between Shenfield and London Liverpool Street providing improvements and extended platforms in preparation for the arrival of new air-conditioned trains that will start operating on the TfL Rail route between Shenfield and Liverpool Street station, from May 2017.
  • Signalling works and installation of station canopies and other structural steel works for the new Cambridge North station, due to open in May 2017.
  • In addition, TfL is replacing a road bridge at Ardleigh Green near Gidea Park, which has been timed to coincide with existing railway line closures to ensure minimum disruption to passengers.

A vast amount of work like this cannot take place while the railway is open and Network Rail has worked with train operators Abellio Greater Anglia and TfL Rail, to plan the closures at times when the fewest people use the railway.

Richard Schofield, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “This autumn and winter will see some of the biggest and most crucial changes on this route in years, helping improve passenger and freight services for everyone in the region. Our Railway Upgrade Plan is vital in helping deliver the new trains as part of the Crossrail construction project in 2017, and removing a long and painful speed restriction which will no longer delay trains in the heat of summer.

“While I understand the inconvenience and disruption that closing the railway causes, the initial and long-term benefits for passengers are huge and we cannot postpone the opportunity to provide a bigger and better railway for the people of East Anglia and London. I’d like to thank passengers for their understanding while we carry out the work and my advice is to check how their journeys will be affected before they travel so they can plan ahead.”

Jamie Burles, managing director for Abellio Greater Anglia, said: “We understand the significant impact engineering works has on our customers’ journeys and we thank them for their patience and understanding. We are working very hard to provide practical and comfortable rail replacement alternatives for people wanting to travel during these times. Due to the complex nature of the works we would recommend that customers check their itinerary before travelling as arrangements may differ over the course of the works. We are also working with Network Rail to try and move some other works in the Cambridge area that are currently planned for three of the weekends, to avoid any additional inconvenience to passengers.”

Major works to remodel the track and provide an extra platform at Shenfield are planned in early 2017 and will require TfL Rail services to terminate at Brentwood instead of Shenfield between January and May.  Further details of how this work will affect train services will be available later this year.

Notes to editors

Autumn 2016

Passengers are urged to check with National Rail or their train operator before they travel to see how their specific journeys may be affected. However, similar to the works carried out in Feb-April 2016, weekend services will not operate on the Great Eastern Main Line between Witham/ Billericay and London Liverpool Street for eight weekends from Saturday 17 September to Sunday 6 November affecting both Abellio Greater Anglia (AGA) services and TfL Rail services with the following exceptions :

  • On Saturday, 17 September* and 8 October* Abellio Greater Anglia and TfL Rail will operate services until midday.
  • On Saturday, 1 October* Abellio Greater Anglia will operate rail services until midday and TfL Rail will operate a limited rail service between Liverpool Street and Chadwell Heath all day.
  • On Saturday, 15 and 22 October, and Saturday, 5 November TfL Rail will operate services between Liverpool Street and Chadwell Heath all day.

Rail replacement bus services will be operating between Witham/Billericay and Newbury Park for access to the Central Line during these weekend works.  TfL Rail will operate rail replacement bus services to all stations between Shenfield and Stratford affected by the project.*Services between Upminster and Romford will be operating a limited service until 12noon on these dates.

Cambridge North

  • The plans for works affecting services between Norwich and Cambridge on 9th, 15th, 16th and 23rdOctober are still being finalised with the train operator and are subject to change. Passengers travelling from Norwich into London are urged to continue to check before they travel.

Christmas 2016

In December 2016, the Great Eastern Main line will be closed from Witham and Billericay into London Liverpool Street from 24 December to 2 January inclusive, affecting both Abellio Greater Anglia and TfL Rail services except:

  • On Christmas Eve, TfL Rail services will be able to operate a limited service between Liverpool Street and Chadwell Heath.
  • Between 28 December and 2 January 2017 (inclusive), TfL Rail will be able to operate a limited service between Liverpool Street and Chadwell Heath.

Rail replacement bus services will operate from Ingatestone and Billericay to Newbury Park. A rail replacement bus service will operate between Shenfield and Chadwell Heath for TfL Rail passengers.

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

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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