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

Important upgrades for the Crossrail programme and work to install new overhead wires on the line between Norwich and London will take place during 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.

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

  • 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
  • Continuing work at Pudding Mill Lane near Stratford to connect the Elizabeth line’s central tunnel section to the main line

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.

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’s 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.”

The work begins on Saturday 23 December for a 10-day period. Passengers should check how their journey will be affected at, or with their train operator ahead of travelling.