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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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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