Vital improvements for Norwich to London rail passengers to take place at weekends and Christmas: Brentwood wiring train

Monday 18 Sep 2017

Vital improvements for Norwich to London rail passengers to take place at weekends and Christmas


Important upgrades for the Crossrail programme and work to install new overhead wires on the line between Norwich and London will take place at weekends from October to December, with a ten-day closure at Christmas.

During that time, Network Rail’s engineers will spend the equivalent of 20,000 hours replacing just over 10km of overhead wire at Ilford as part of a £250m project to upgrade the wiring system on the busy mainline. Once this work is complete, the stretch from Chelmsford to Ilford will have had the new wire installed, resulting in fewer delays.

The wires and structures that are currently in place were installed in the 1950s and the system 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 pass at their normal speed meaning fewer delays.

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “Our investment programme in our vital railway infrastructure on this very busy route continues as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. While there will be short-term disruption, the benefits for passengers are real and will last for decades as modern, more reliable infrastructure is installed and preparations made for the introduction of new services and new trains on the Elizabeth line.”   

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “We will make sure that customers can complete their journeys during all periods of engineering works, even if part of it is by bus. Our rail replacement bus service operates very smoothly, with extra staff on hand to direct customers to the right bus. These works are crucial if we are to get the modern railway we need in East Anglia and combined with the new trains we’re getting to replace every single train on our network, should lead to a transformed railway for us all.”

Work will also take place at TfL Rail stations between Brentwood and Stratford as part of the Crossrail programme, including:

  • Continuing work at Pudding Mill Lane near Stratford to connect the Elizabeth line’s central tunnel section to the main line
  • Major track and overhead wire modernisation at Gidea Park sidings to accommodate the longer Elizabeth line trains
  • Works will also be continuing to deliver step free access and station improvements for passengers at stations in preparation for the opening of the Elizabeth line at the end of 2018

When complete, the Elizabeth line will increase central London’s rail capacity by 10% and bring 1.5 million extra people within 45 minutes of central London.

The main  work begins on Saturday 21 October and affects passengers travelling on some Saturdays and Sundays throughout the autumn, although there are weekends in November and December without any works. Passengers should check how their journey will be affected at, or with their train operator ahead of travelling.

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 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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