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East London and Essex railway upgrades

From 2021 we will be carrying out a series of works to improve the Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness line and the Tilbury loop which diverges from the main line between Barking and Pitsea. 

We are aiming to improve the reliability and punctuality of train services on what is already one of Britain’s best performing railway lines by putting passengers first.  

Overhead line equipment
Improvements to the overhead line equipment will improve reliability and punctuality

Renewing the overhead line electrification (OLE) system

Improving reliability and reducing faults of this key part of the system that delivers electrical power to the trains will help passengers feel more confident about travelling by rail.

We are replacing over-head wire and structures along 50kms of the railway as part of the work to renew the overhead line electrification (OLE) system.

Map showing the line we are working on between Fenchurch Street and
Pitsea (via the Tilbury loop) and along the mainline to Hornchurch

Our programme of OLE upgrade work will deliver: 

  • A renewal of the systems that can adapt to different weather conditions which is particularly important in hot weather, meaning fewer delays and cancellations  
  • A more reliable and sustainable overhead electrification system which will require less maintenance, meaning less cost and disruption  
  • Reduced likelihood of equipment failures and power outages  

These improvements will help us keep the railway operating reliably and efficiently for the growing number of passengers and freight services using the line for years to come. 

When will this OLE upgrade work be delivered? 

The engineering work started in April 2021 with installing new foundations for OLE structures in various locations.  

Wiring and structure renewal started in October 2021 in the Pitsea area and will continue along the line for several years. We’ll keep passengers and local residents updated as the programme develops. 

Upgrading Track Reliability 

As well as the overhead line upgrade work, we’re also replacing track at 11 locations along the line from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness and at seven locations along the Tilbury Loop line. These vital renewals will help reduce the number of track faults which can also result in delays or cancellations for passengers.

We’re also replacing points at Southend Central, Barking, Upminster, East Ham, Grays West and Thameshaven Junction. Points play an important role as they are moveable sections of track that guide trains from one track to another and allow them to cross paths.

Once replaced, the new track and points should result in fewer track faults, fewer closures for maintenance and fault finding and increased reliability, meaning fewer delays and cancellations.

BRE bridge installation
Install of viaduct deck spans at Tilbury

Bridge Structures  

During Christmas 2021, our engineers successfully replaced bridge structures at Morris Street and Christian Street near to Shadwell station. The bridges had come to the end of its operational life.

During Christmas 2023, we are planning to strengthen the Minories bridges and various other bridges around Fenchurch Street station. This work will improve safety and reliability for passengers and freight services.

Other Exciting Enhancements 

Network Rail often works with industry partners to deliver a railway improvement project. Since 2020, we’ve been supporting Transport for London (TfL) with the Barking Riverside Extension project. This extension will add 4.5 kilometres to the London Overground Gospel Oak to Barking line, taking it from Barking to a new station at Barking Riverside.

Network Rail’s Asset Protection and Optimisation (ASPRO) team is providing expert railway assistance and supporting TfL in delivering its work safely and securely.

More information on the project can be found on TfL’s website

Will train services be affected? 

To allow us to work on the track and overhead lines safely, there will be some disruption to services on selected weekends and bank holidays. We plan to complete the more complex works over the Christmas periods in 2022 and 2023 to minimise disruption where possible to passengers. 

We urge all passengers to check with their train operator at or at 

Contact us about our investment programme 

If you’re interested in finding out more about our programme to replace OLE equipment, please contact us by visiting our contact us page or by calling our 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41. You can also follow us on Twitter @networkrailANG and use the project hashtag #ELERail 

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