Wherry lines re-signalling and renewals programme completed in February 2020

The 130-year-old mechanical signalling method on the Wherry lines between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft (NYL), has been modernised by installing a computer-based signalling system operated from Colchester to improve:

  • overall safety and reliability of the railway
  • operational flexibility
  • level crossing safety
  • sustainability and efficiency using modern technology
  • the duration of level crossing road closures reducing delays for road users

Following years of planning and engineering works previously undertaken since October 2017, the new signals were switched on in February 2020 following a 23-day closure of the lines and was combined with a set of additional renewals in one significant phase of work.

Preserving our Heritage

As the Victoria signalling system is an important part of our railway heritage, we have established several contacts across various community projects that have expressed an interest in taking the redundant equipment. These include railway heritage projects, exhibitions and learning centres. Donations of redundant signalling equipment have already been made and we are continuing to identify opportunities for this equipment to find continued use and purpose.

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

Completed work

The first phase of the project was completed in October 2017 to upgrade the track around Great Yarmouth and Somerleyton stations, improving the way we operate and control the railway. In Great Yarmouth, the manually operated station track points (which allows trains to cross between lines) were upgraded to powered operation which allows us to control the track switch remotely.

Click here to read the press release

In February 2018, we had our second phase of work to begin to install the foundations for the new signals across the route, and we upgraded the junction around Lowestoft.

Click here to read the press release

In October 2018, we completed the third phase of the project by remodelling the track layout at Reedham junction, renewing over 1000 metres of track which will improve reliability and operational efficiency of the railway. We also installed over 26 new signals, equipment and laid lots of cables and cable trunking.

The changes to Reedham junction require rail services between Reedham and Yarmouth to be suspended from 20 October 2019 until the new signals can come into operation. The closure of the single branch line will affect a small number of daily services via Berney Arms.

Click here to read the press release

In March 2019, we completed the fourth phase of works over a nine day closure of the Wherry lines.

Over 20,000 hours of work was completed focussing on significant track remodelling at Brundall junction with 300m of new track including switches and crossings – movable sections of rail that guide trains from one track to another, a new platform extension and full platform refurbishment. The remodelled track layout will improve the way trains move through the junction making the service more reliable for passengers.

Elsewhere on the lines, engineers have revising the signalling arrangements between Brundall and Reedham to prepare for the change to the modern signalling system. Other equipment installed included new power supplies including extensive cable routes to serve the new signal systems. As part of the revised signalling arrangements, engineers closed Reedham signal box and removed the redundant semaphore signals from the Reedham area.

The March 2019 phase of work was the original completion date for the NYL re-signalling scheme. Following a postponement to allow more time for testing the new signalling programme, the completion of the scheme has now been revised to February 2020 and combined with a wider programme of renewals to take place over 23 days. 

Click here to see the press release

The fifth and final phase of the project took place during 23 days of works in February 2020:

  • a modern, computer-controlled signalling system, deployed across the Wherry lines and operated from Colchester was switched on, replacing the old Victorian mechanical signalling method.
  • six level crossings were upgraded along with 11 user-worked crossings improving safety for level crossing users.
  • Track renewal and modification made at Lowestoft station and additional track renewal work completed at Hassingham, Acle and Oulton Broad North.
  • Maintenance of Reedham and Somerleyton swingbridges completed, upgrading the detection systems which have been in use since the 1940s.

Owing to the impact of storms Ciara and Dennis, the Postwick bridge renewal which was expected to have been delivered during the 23-day period has been postponed. This work is being reprogrammed for a later date.

Wherry line services were suspended between Norwich, Lowestoft and Yarmouth, and part of the East Suffolk line between Beccles and Lowestoft during the February works.  Train services were suspended from:

  • Saturday 1 February to Sunday 2 February – between Norwich and Yarmouth
  • Monday 3 February to Sunday 16 February – between Norwich and Yarmouth, Norwich and Lowestoft and Beccles and Lowestoft
  • Monday 17 February to Sunday 23 February – between Norwich and Lowestoft

See the press releases issued regarding the February 2020 works here:

3 January 2020 – Wherry line community events

27 January 2020 – Upgrades on the Wherry line

17 February 2020 – Norwich to Yarmouth line reopens

24 February 2020 – Wherry lines fully re-open

Contact us

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