We're upgrading the overhead line systems to improve reliability for passengers. 

The Great Eastern main line’s overhead electrification system between Stratford and Chelmsford, and the Southend Victoria line is being upgraded for the first time since the 1950s with a new auto-tension system to make train journeys more reliable in the summer months.

What have we completed so far?

Passengers are already benefitting from the upgrade of the overhead lines between Forest Gate and Chelmsford which was competed at the end of 2018. The upgrade of the overhead lines between Shenfield and Southend Victoria was completed in 2019.

Stratford to Maryland Overhead line renewals

Christmas 2020

Strafford is the most complex section of the main line to be upgraded and includes a major junction where several lines converge, supporting many passenger and freight services.

We have already begun to renew the overhead line equipment in this complex area around Stratford station and up to Maryland and we have completed significant works over the autumn and over Christmas 2020. This will be continuing with weekend works over January and February until Easter 2021 as explained below.

January to February 2021

The overhead line upgrade works will continue over selected weekends in January and February when both TfL Rail and Greater Anglia train services through Stratford station will be suspended on the following dates:

  • Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 January 2021
  • Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 January 2021
  • Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 January 2021
  • Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 February 2021

On the following dates, Greater Anglia services will operate through Stratford station on the while TfL Rail services will remain suspended:

  • Sunday 14 February 2021
  • Sunday 21 February 2021

In addition, Central line services will not be available from Stratford station on Sunday 14 February 2021. Passengers expecting to travel via Stratford station on these dates over Christmas and in 2021 are advised to check before travelling with National Rail Enquiries, Transport For London or Greater Anglia.

The upgrade of the overhead line equipment from Stratford to Maryland is expected to be complete at Easter 2021, details of which will be announced early in 2021.

Easter 2021

Work will continue over four days during Easter 2021 – Friday 2 April to Monday 5 April (inclusive). Train service information will be available nearer the time. 

Why are Overhead wire important?

Wires provide the power for electric trains to run. The train has an arm called a pantograph which draws the power from the wires. When the wires sag, which typically happens when the weather is hot, the arm can get caught in the wires and rip them down. To avoid this happening, speed restrictions are imposed, which leads to delays and cancellations. The new wiring system prevents the wires from sagging which means fewer speed restrictions and fewer delays and cancellations.

Contact us about our OLE renewals programme

If you’re interested in finding out more about our programme to replace overhead wires, please contact us by visiting our contact us page or by calling our 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.