New track, sleepers and ballast has been installed at Billericay on the Southend Victoria branch line, which means fewer delays for key workers currently using the line and improved reliability in the long term ready for when passengers return.

Over the weekend (18-19 April) Network Rail engineers replaced over 300 metres of rails, sleepers and ballast at Billericay. This coincides with the completion of track renewal at Maryland on the Great Eastern Mainline, where engineers replaced four crossovers which are sections of track that allow trains to change from one track to another. 

Over time track becomes worn from constant use, especially on busy lines, and needs to be replaced to keep services on the move and reduce the likelihood of faults that causes delays. The work was planned for when the line was already closed for the replacement of the overhead wires to reduce the number of closures.

Ballast, the stones that form the track bed, was also replaced to improve drainage and keep the track in place. This keeps the track in good condition resulting in fewer delays and smoother journeys for passengers.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “Although most of our passengers are staying at home right now, our engineers are still carrying out essential work like this to keep services running smoothly and safely every day for key workers and to keep vital freight services moving. This work will improve reliability for years to come, meaning fewer delays and cancellations now and when our passengers return.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia’s Managing Director, said: “It’s great news that this work has been completed, and it’s even better that the work was carried out when the line was already closed for the replacement of the overhead wires, to reduce the inconvenience to passengers.

“We are introducing new trains on the Southend line. These trains are currently being built and tested and the first one will be in service later this year.

“While many of our customers are heeding government advice and staying at home, we are very thankful to our railway colleagues, both at Greater Anglia and Network Rail, who are continuing to keep the railway open for essential travel.”

Passengers are reminded to travel only if essential.