As part of Anglia’s railway upgrade plan from 2019-24, we will be undertaking works to renew our infrastructure – including renewing around a quarter of our track.
By doing this, it will help us to maintain a safer and more reliable railway for passengers and freight by reducing the number of train services affected by delays and cancellations.
Maryland track renewals
We’re replacing track at Maryland which is a key point on the Great Eastern Main Line between London and Norwich.
Over time, track and points become worn, particularly on this key junction on the busy main line. To keep services on the move, they have to be renewed. This will also help us to maintain a safer and more reliable railway by reducing the number of train services impacted by delays or cancellations.
Once replaced, the track expected to last 25 years. Once renewed, there will be fewer track faults, fewer closures for maintenance and fault finding and increased reliability, meaning fewer delays and cancellations
23 March 2020
This weekend consisted of mainly follow-up works which include stressing, tamping and welding of the new tracks that have been installed and some ballast works.
Tracks are made of steel which shrinks at low temperatures and expands at high temperatures. This can cause fractures which lead to track faults that cause delays. Stressing involves stretching the track to reduce the amount of shrinkage and expansion on a typical day. This still means that in extremely cold or extremely hot weather the tracks will shrink and expand but most of the time they will remain stable and which means fewer faults and fewer speed restrictions.
A tamping machine packs down the ballast, the stones under the tracks, while lifting the track to level the track off. Once complete, this helps the train wheels to align with the track which results in a smoother ride for passengers and prevents the train wheels from causing damage to the track.
The ballast is important for track alignment and drainage, and this is cleaned as part of our maintenance programme with a ballast cleaner. This helps to keep the track in good condition so trains can run on time.
We understand the problems the speed restriction was having on journeys, especially those in Southend.
We have reworked our programme so that it could be lifted sooner. We will still carry out all the work we have planned, but it will be done in a differentorder. This means that last weekend we didn’t install any track but we completed follow-up works to the track already installed so that the speed restriction could be lifted. We apologise to all passengers who were affected by this restriction.
We will continue working through the programme while monitoring the Coronavirus situation and of course take necessary precautions.
We are very sorry that we haven’t been able to lift the speed restriction and we understand how disruptive this is to your journeys.
When we replace track, we put a speed restriction in while it beds in and we carry out checks to make sure that there are no issues. Sometimes further work needs to be carried out before the speed restriction can be lifted. It is still safe to run trains over the track as long as they are travelling at a slow speed.
When hundreds of trains are running over our tracks every day, like at Maryland, track becomes worn and we need to replace it in order to prevent defects and breaks which cause delays and cancellations. Because we are replacing entire sections of track, there is too much work to do overnight, and this is why it has been planned in over consecutive weekends, so that we can still run a train service on weekdays.
Work is on schedule, with two points renewed this weekend on one of the lines heading out of London as planned.
The speed restriction will be lifted by 30th March when the work will be finished. There will be some minor follow-up works on the 17th and 18th April.
More information about how services will be affected is available at www.greateranglia.co.uk/servicealterations
Our team completed all works as planned this weekend, including renewing 3 points and 142 yards of plain line track. Plain line track is a stretch of railway track that does not have any junctions, crossovers or points on it. Replacing existing rail and sleepers with high-performing new ones, helps keep services moving reliably.
The junction at Maryland is a key section of the route as the points (movable sections of track) here allow trains to be diverted onto other track if there are issues ahead. Once the work is complete, this will help us minimise disruption and keep the railway moving.
As a safety precaution while we’re carrying out these crucial works, we’ve applied a speed restriction, which means some services will be cancelled in the morning and evening peaks. The speed restriction is planned to be lifted next week (9 March). Customers have been advised to check before they travel and plan extra time for their journeys.
This weekend we’ve replaced two points on crossover sections of the main line.
Points are movable sections of track that allow trains to move from one line to another. On some of our busiest lines, over 100 trains will pass over just one set of points every day.
Points can sometimes fail, this is when there is a fault with the movable pieces of track or their operating equipment that enable trains to change tracks. This may then result in disruption to journeys as we can’t tell trains to proceed. Points can fail for multiple reasons; they might get clogged with debris or ice, the drive mechanism might fail or, in hot weather, they might expand too much.
Once we’ve renewed points, there will be fewer faults and fewer closures for maintenance.
Four crossovers will be renewed over the coming weekends – these are sections of track which allow trains to change from one track to another. There are four lines at Maryland, two which travel towards London and two which travel away from London. The crossovers between these tracks are used to divert trains when there is an issue on one of the lines ahead. This means we don’t have to completely stop the service, the trains can travel around the issue and results in less disruption to passengers.
It takes a total of 50 hours to take out the old track and sleepers and replace them with the new ones. There is then follow up work for tamping, welding and stressing.
Over the Christmas and New Year period, 20,560 railway staff delivered 386 projects across the country and Network Rail invested £111m to improve the national network.
We’d like to thank passengers and lineside neighbours for their continued understanding and patience while we carried out the work.
Over this period, Network Rail engineers completed the following track engineering works on the railway as part of our railway upgrade plan:
- Installed new overhead wires at Wickford on the Southend Victoria branch line as part of a £46m investment to reduce delays and improve reliability
- Replaced track and points at Colchester to reduce the risk of points failures and make journeys more reliable for passengers and freight trains.
- Continued work for the Crossrail programme in East London
- Essential bridge strengthening work and repairs in Rochford, Essex and at Prickwillow near Ely
- Carried out track maintenance and repairs in the Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green area.
- Enabled continued TfL works on Barking Riverside extension