Thursday 24 Aug 2017
Southend Victoria line to reopen at nights following early completion of first phase of major upgrades
The first phase of major reliability improvements on the Southend Victoria line will complete one month earlier than planned allowing the line to reopen for late night services from November, meaning less disruption for passengers.
Network Rail is working on the £46m project to install a new overhead wiring system between Southend Victoria and London Liverpool Street, which will improve reliability and reduce the number of delays.
Overnight working was introduced in May this year to accelerate the programme which means the line currently closes from 9:30pm each night from Monday to Thursday between Shenfield and Wickford. This phase of the work was originally planned to complete in December, but engineers have carried out the work sooner than planned, so from Monday 6 November late night services will run. During this time over 100 structures have been installed that will carry the new overhead wires.
Network Rail is replacing the old 1950s overhead wires with new wires that won’t sag in hot weather, increasing reliability all year round. The wires and structures that are currently in place form a system that is one of the oldest in the country. When the weather gets hot, the wires sag and speed restrictions have to be imposed to protect them from damage by trains. 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.
Steve Gourley, Network Rail construction manager, explains what the team has been doing in this short video at Billericay station.
Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “We’ve made excellent progress on this project, which means that we can open the line earlier than we originally planned, and is good news for passengers. We can now begin to install the new overhead wire that will make services on the Southend Victoria branch line more reliable and reduce the number of delays, especially in the summer months. I’d like to thank passengers for their continued patience while we carry out this important work.”
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “I’m sure customers will be as delighted as us that this work has been completed ahead of schedule. We have ensured that customers have always been able to complete their journeys, even if part of the way is by bus, but it we know customers prefer being able to stay on the train. Engineering work is inconvenient, but together with Network Rail we’re transforming and modernising the railway in East Anglia which will make journeys better for generations to come.”
From Sunday 3 September, the new overhead wire will start to be installed between Shenfield and Wickford over a series of weekends until Sunday 22 October. Passengers are advised to check before they travel as some work takes place on both Saturday and Sunday and some work takes place on Sunday only.
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.