Southend Victoria line reopens on weeknights ahead of schedule following upgrades: Installing the first new overhead wires on the Southend Victoria line

Friday 3 Nov 2017

Southend Victoria line reopens on weeknights ahead of schedule following upgrades


The Southend Victoria line reopens tonight, (Friday 3 November) over a month ahead of schedule, following completion of the first phase of work to upgrade the overhead wiring system as part of a £46m programme to reduce delays and improve reliability on this part of the railway.

Weeknight closures were introduced in May to accelerate the programme and Network Rail engineers have installed over 100 structures that will carry new overhead wires between Shenfield and Southend Victoria. Weekend closures were introduced in September, during which over 1km of overhead wire was installed between Shenfield and Billericay. This marks the start of work to install 128km of overhead wire on the whole line to improve reliability as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan.

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, leading to delays and cancellations. 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 services all year round.

Further closures will be required during 2018 to complete the project and details will be available once plans are finalised.

A rail replacement service will also run on some weekends during November and for a ten-day period over Christmas and New Year. Passengers are advised to check before they travel at or

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “We’ve made excellent progress on this project, which means the line can be opened on weeknights earlier than we originally planned, which is good news for passengers. Last year, sagging wires in the summer months led to the cancellation of over 50 trains on this line over two days. The new wires we’re installing will alleviate these issues and make services on the Southend Victoria line much more reliable as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while we carried out this important work.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director said: “We know customers find engineering works inconvenient, but we make sure they can always complete their journeys, even if part of it is by bus. It’s great news that Network Rail has completed the first section ahead of schedule. This work is essential so that we can run a more reliable railway fit for generations to come. Combined with the new trains we’re getting from 2019, we are working hard to modernise the railway in East Anglia.”


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