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.

Next Phase of work – Autumn 2020

The final phase of this work, from Stratford station to Maryland is planned to begin autumn 2020 and be completed by Easter 2021.

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

Overhead line upgrade work at Stratford and Maryland (and power supply works for Crossrail along the line to Shenfield) will be taking place on the following dates:

  • Sunday 18 October
  • Sunday 25 October
  • Sunday 1 November
  • Sunday 8 November
  • Sunday 15 November
  • Sunday 22 November

Impact on passenger services

TfL Rail services will be suspended on these dates with bus replacement services operating to Newbury Park to provide a connection to the Central line.

Except for Sunday 1 and 8 November (Remembrance Sunday), London bound Greater Anglia services from Norwich will terminate at Ipswich. A rail replacement bus service will be in operation between Ipswich and Newbury Park, between Witham and Braintree and between Marks Tey and Sudbury calling at stations.

Train services from Southend Victoria and Southminster will terminate at Billericay with bus replacement services in place.

On Sunday 1 November, London bound trains will terminate at Colchester with a bus replacement service calling a all stations to Newbury Park.

Train services into London will be available on 8 November (Remembrance Sunday)

Christmas 2020 and weekends in 2021

The upgrade of the overhead line equipment from Stratford to Maryland will continue over Christmas 2020 and weekends in January and February, completing by Easter 2021. More information about the work at these times will be announced closer to 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.