Vital railway upgrades to continue in New Year on the Southend Victoria line: Structure installation at Billericay

Thursday 16 Nov 2017

Vital railway upgrades to continue in New Year on the Southend Victoria line


Work on the next phase of a £46m programme that will transform travel on the Southend Victoria branch line will take place on weeknights from January to May in the New Year as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan.

The work to reduce delays and improve reliability on this part of the railway will begin on 15 January 2018 between Shenfield and Hockley. This will affect services from 9:30pm on weeknights from Monday to Thursday each week for a five-month period. Weeknight closures will fast-track the programme by one year, so that passengers will benefit from the upgrades earlier.

Over the last year, engineers have installed over 100 structures that will carry new overhead wires and between Shenfield and Southend Victoria and over 1km of overhead wire between Shenfield and Billericay. This marks the start of work to install 128km of overhead wire on the whole line to reduce delays caused by sagging overhead wires.

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 expand and 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.

The work can only be carried out when no trains are running, which means services will be affected after 9:30pm Monday – Thursday from 15 January. Work will also take place between Southend Victoria and Shenfield on weekends throughout January. Passengers are advised to check before they travel at or

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “This work will bring crucial improvements to our Southend passengers as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. The new wiring system will reduce delays on this line, especially in the hot summer months, and weeknight closures will enable us to complete this work quickly so passengers will benefit sooner. I understand that closing the railway is inconvenient and I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while we carry out this important work.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director said: “We are working with Network Rail to make a railway for now and for future generations. We are sorry that customers are inconvenienced by this work, but combined with the brand new trains we’re getting from 2019, it will transform journeys on the Southend Victoria line. We know our customers would rather stay on the train until they reach their destination, but we will still make sure they can complete their journey, even if part of it is by bus.”

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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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