Fewer delays for Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex rail passengers following Christmas upgrades

Key rail upgrades for Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex passengers were completed over Christmas and New Year as part of a package of work that will transform journeys into the capital.

Network Rail engineers worked the equivalent of 16,000 hours to install over 10km of overhead wire at Ilford, as part of a £250m project to install a new wiring system that automatically adapts to temperature changes to reduce delays.

The 37km stretch from Chelmsford to Ilford on the Norwich to London mainline now has the new wires installed which means fewer delays and cancellations for passengers, as speed restrictions will no longer need to be imposed between Chelmsford and Ilford in hot weather.

Work to install a further 8km of overhead wire on the section between Ilford and Manor Park begins at the end of the month. These improvements will last for decades to come and help to provide a more reliable service to the growing numbers of passengers using the busy mainline.

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

  • 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 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 fully open in 2019, 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. Passengers will be able to travel to parts of the City, West End and west London without the need to change trains and will also benefit from improved links to Heathrow Airport. Further upgrades for the Crossrail programme will continue in 2018 in the run up to completion.

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “These improvements will provide more reliable journeys for Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex passengers as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. Following the installation of overhead wire, we will no longer need to impose speed restrictions between Chelmsford and Ilford in hot weather, which means fewer delays and cancellations. We’ve also made improvements as part of the Crossrail programme, in preparation for the opening of the Elizabeth line at the end of 2018. Further work will take place at weekends from the end of January and I would like to thank passengers for their patience while we carry out these important upgrades.”

Jamie Burles, managing director for Greater Anglia, said: “We’d like to thank customers for their patience during Network Rail engineering works this Christmas. Together with Network Rail, we’re modernising the railway in East Anglia for now and for future generations to provide a more reliable service.”

Passengers travelling at weekends from Sunday 21 January to 25 March are urged to check before they travel as rail replacement services will run from either Witham or Ingatestone to Newbury Park where passengers can pick up the central line. The closures also affect passengers travelling from Southend and Southminster. Passengers can check how their journey will be affected at www.nationalrail.co.uk or with their train operator ahead of travelling.