Southend railwayman trades stockings by the fire for overhead wire to upgrade your railway this Christmas: Network Rail project manager Gary Desmond

Tuesday 20 Dec 2016

Southend railwayman trades stockings by the fire for overhead wire to upgrade your railway this Christmas

Route:
Anglia
South East

Network Rail project manager, Gary Desmond, from Benfleet, Essex is about to work his 16th Christmas, delivering important upgrades to make the railway more reliable for the increasing number of passengers who travel from Southend to London Liverpool Street.

This year, Gary is also the voice behind the radio adverts advising passengers to check before they travel this festive season, and one of hundreds of Network Rail engineers who will be working on the £250m overhead wire replacement project at Gidea Park, Essex, from Christmas Eve to Monday 2 January.

Gary and his 100-strong team will replace the existing 1950s overhead wires on the line between London Liverpool Street and Southend. The new wires will improve the reliability of the railway all year round, meaning fewer delays for passengers travelling between London Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria.

Gary, who has worked in the railway industry for 36 years, explains: “I’ll be working in Essex this Christmas, where my team will be busy installing nearly 12.5km of overhead wire, making the railway more reliable as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. The new wires will mean fewer speed restrictions and fewer delays for passengers when the weather is hot.

“I haven’t spent Christmas with my family for the last 15 years, which has been hard, especially when my daughters were little. Despite this, they know I really enjoy my job and I can get a lot done during this time. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

In total, 24,000 Network Rail staff will be working during these few days across the country as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan. Crossrail construction work will also take place at Shenfield and at stations between Shenfield and London Liverpool Street to prepare for the arrival of new air-conditioned trains that will start operating on the TfL Rail route from May 2017.

 

Notes to Editors

Christmas upgrade work

Passengers are advised to check on National Rail Enquiries www.nationalrail.co.uk or with the train operator. Below is a guide to some of the major changes to services from Christmas to May 2017. The Brentwood to Shenfield closure will continue until late May. Greater Anglia would like to make cyclists aware that full-size bikes cannot be taken onto rail replacement services. Folding bikes are allowed at bus drivers' discretion.

Date

TfL Rail 

Greater Anglia – Southend Victoria to London

Saturday 24 December

No service between Chadwell Heath and Shenfield*

No service between Billericay and London Liverpool Street**

Sunday 25 December (Christmas Day)

No services

No services

Monday 26 December

(Boxing day)

No services

No services

Tuesday 27 December

No services ***

No service between Billericay and London Liverpool Street**

Wednesday 28 December to Friday 30 December

No service between Chadwell Heath and Shenfield*

No service between Billericay and London Liverpool Street**†

Saturday 31 December

No service between Chadwell Heath and Shenfield*

No service between Billericay and London Liverpool Street**

Sunday 1 January 2017

No service between Chadwell Heath and Shenfield*

No service between Billericay and London Liverpool Street**

Monday 2 January 2017

No service between Chadwell Heath and Shenfield*

No service between Billericay and London Liverpool Street**

* Rail replacement bus services call at all affected stations between Chadwell Heath and Shenfield

** Rail replacement bus service will run between Billericay and Newbury Park (for the Central line)

*** A rail replacement bus service will run every 15 minutes from Chadwell Heath to Shenfield, calling at all stops, as well as Newbury Park for the Central line. Buses will also run every 15 minutes from Romford to Stratford calling at all stops except Maryland.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Journalists
Network Rail press office - Katie Mack
Media relations manager (Anglia route)
020 3356 2515
Katie.Mack@networkrail.co.uk

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 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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