Network Rail has installed a new overhead wiring system on the Southend Victoria branch line in a £46m upgrade to improve reliability for key workers currently using the line and in the long term when passengers return to work.

This is the first time the wiring system has been upgraded since it was installed in the 1950s, bringing this busy line up to 21st century standards. More than 100km of new overhead wire has been installed between Southend Victoria and Shenfield, where the branch line joins with the new overhead line system on the main line, which means a new wiring system is in place from Southend to London.

The new system adapts to temperature changes which is particularly important in hot weather, meaning fewer delays and cancellations and overall reliability improvements all year round. These improvements will support the growing number of passengers using the line for years to come.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail route director, Anglia, said: “This work was vital to bring the equipment up to 21st century standards which hugely improves reliability and brings the line up to the modern standards seen on other parts of the network.

 “I’d like to thank our Southend passengers for their patience and support while we carried out this extensive work programme. I understand that this has been a difficult time for passengers, especially at the weekends, but I’m confident that these crucial improvements will support the growing number of people using the line for years to come.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director said: ”It’s great news that this work has now been completed. We’d like to thank our customers on this line, who have put up with a lot of disruption due to mid-week and weekend engineer works.

“We’d also like to thank them for the way they worked with us during the innovative nine-day intensive stretch of works last May, which enabled Network Rail to complete the project earlier and with fewer mid-week and weekend works.

“Once we are over coronavirus, I’m sure customers will enjoy being able to travel on the Southend Victoria line at weekends, without part of the journey being by replacement bus.

“The next big change on this line, will be the introduction of our brand new state-of-the-art trains, later this year, which will complete its transformation into a modern 21st century railway.”

Network Rail’s engineers sped up the extensive work programme by carrying out a nine-day closure and working on some weeknights. This meant that the work was completed two months earlier, with 11 fewer weeks of mid-week closures and six fewer weekend closures.