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.
Over time, track and points become worn which can lead to temporary speed restrictions being put in place to reduce the stress on worn rails.
To keep services move at their most efficient, the rails have to be renewed from time to time to help us to maintain a safer and more reliable railway. Once replaced, the track is expected to last approx. 25 years resulting in fewer track faults, fewer closures for maintenance and fault finding and increased reliability, meaning fewer delays and cancellations
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.
Below is a list of track renewals completed since Christmas 2019:
Replaced track and points at Colchester station (London end) to reduce the risk of points failures and make journeys more reliable for passengers and freight trains.
February: Track renewal at Lowestoft station and additional three kilometres of track renewal work completed at Hassingham. Track renewals also took place at Acle and Oulton Broad North during the 23 day closure of the Norwich, Yarmouth Lowestoft Wherry lines for switch on of the new signalling system.
February to April: Replaced track and points at Maryland over eight weekends to help improve punctuality and reliability which will result in fewer delays.
April 18-19: Engineers replaced over 300 metres of rails, sleepers and ballast at Billericay over the weekend. This coincides with the completion of track renewal at Maryland on the Great Eastern Mainline.
Early May bank holiday: Engineers replaced half a mile of track at Weeley and over a quarter a mile of track between Alresford and Great Bentley. This will keep rail services running and improve reliability for those who need to travel now and for when more passengers return in the future.
June 13-14: Engineers replaced nearly 1km of track between Buckenham and Cantley station to maintain a safe and reliable railway.
July-September: Renewal of almost four miles of track near Elmswell on the Ipswich to Bury St Edmunds line to maintain safety and improve reliability
July-October: Engineers replaced nearly four miles of track between Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, to improve reliability.
July-August Half a mile of track and four points, which allow trains to switch from one track to another, were replaced where the track splits at Clapton between Tottenham Hale and Chingford. This part of the track allows services to change to either of these lines.
August-September: Nearly 4km of track has been replaced near Cantley including through the station. Additionally, a new vehicle deck was installed across the Station Road level crossing in the village of Cantley and platform resurfacing and fencing works were completed at the station.
August bank holiday: Installation of over half a mile of track, drainage and overhead wire and structure works at Needham Market to improve reliability between Ipswich to Norwich / Bury St Edmunds
October: Work was completed to replace three kilometres of track in the vicinity of Brampton station with 3500 steel and 700 concrete sleepers also being replaced as part of the works.
October: Nearly three quarters of a mile of track was replaced along with 1512 sleepers and 5520 tons of ballast to improve rail journeys on the branch line between Alresford and Great Bentley.
October to November: replacement of worn out track at Manningtree.
November: Engineers replaced one mile of track, 2420 concrete sleepers and 6240 tonnes of ballast (the stones that form the track bed) at Somerleyton. New decks, where the road and the tracks cross, were installed at two user worked crossings along with handrails and fencing.
At London Liverpool Street, nine points, which allow trains to change from one track to another, were refurbished to prevent failures that lead to delays. At Colchester station, switches and crossings units were replaced and a crossover was refurbished at Norwich station. These are essential pieces of track that enable trains to change lines and use any of the platforms at each station.
January-February: A quarter of a mile of track, sleepers and ballast were all replaced on the Harwich branch line to keep passengers and freight services running safely and reliably.
February: Nearly a mile of track and sleepers have been renewed between Littleport and Downham market including 120 tonnes of ballast.