Structure installation at Billericay.(Network Rail Image)
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.
Passengers travelling between Southend Victoria and London Liverpool Street after 9:30pm Monday– Thursday are advised to check before they travel. A rail replacement bus service will be in place between Shenfield and Wickford, which takes just over 30 minutes and also calls at Billericay. The last train of the night is replaced with buses from Shenfield to Southend, with a direct or stopping service departing Shenfield at 01.25. A replacement bus service will also run from Wickford to London Liverpool Street, departing at 23.27 and 23.51. Extra staff are on hand to help customers get from the train to the bus.
The work will not take place when West Ham United play at home so train services will run on those days.
On the following dates a rail replacement bus service will operate between Wickford and Shenfield all day
c2c ticket acceptance will also be in place
Evenings mid-week until 2 November
A rail replacement bus service will continue to operate between Shenfield and Wickford from 22.15 between Monday and Thursday.
The last through train services will be the 21.35 Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria and the 21.30 Southend Victoria to Liverpool Street services.
From 22.15 rail replacement services will operate between Shenfield and Wickford connecting into/out of the GE Main Line services, with the exception of the following services: