Wherry lines re-signalling and renewals programme set for completion in February 2020

We are modernising the Wherry lines between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft (NYL), by installing new signalling technology controlled by a remote computer-based signalling system which will eventually replace the old Victorian signalling equipment currently in operation. This will 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

Originally expected to be completed in March 2019, the postponement of the re-signalling work to allow for additional testing has allowed us to look at the works planned over the next five years and see if we can deliver them at the same time.  The re-signalling work for NYL has been combined with a set of planned renewals in Control Period 6 (CP6) to deliver a package of work over 23 days in February 2020 which will transform the Wherry lines in one significant phase of work.

23 Days in February 2020

During the phased 23 days of works, we will complete the resignalling works; the new signals will be switched on and level crossings at Brundall, Lingwood, Strumpshaw, Cantley, Oulton Broad North and Victoria Road will be upgraded so they are working with the new signalling system which will improve safety for level crossing users.

The 23 days of access to the tracks gives us the opportunity to undertake a full bridge replacement at Postwick. The bridge at Postwick has come to the end of its life, and a new bridge structure will be installed that is designed to last 120 years. We are also going to undertake track renewals at Lowestoft, Acle and Hassingham while the lines are closed.

Additional maintenance works of Reedham and Somerleyton swing bridges will also help to improve reliability of services by upgrading the current detection systems which have been in use since the mid-1940s.

Passenger Services in February 2020

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To allow us to complete this important re-signalling and renewals programme, we are carrying out works over 23 days, during three phases starting from Saturday 1 February 2020 that will affect passenger services.

During this crucial work to transform the Wherry lines, train services on the following routes will not operate:

  • 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

A bus replacement service will be in place to allow passengers to continue their journey. More details will be available closer to the time. We advise anyone wishing to travel across these routes in February 2020 to plan ahead and check their service with Greater Anglia or national rail enquiries before travelling. 

To prepare for the February works, we’re planning to use the weekend of 11 and 12 January 2020 to undertake preparation works at Strumpshaw and Lingwood crossings (Station Road only) as well as moving equipment and materials into position. The Wherry lines between Norwich and Yarmouth/Lowestoft will be closed during this weekend with a replacement bus services provided.

Passengers are advised to check before they travel by visiting National Rail Enquiries or Greater Anglia’s website. The completion of the re-signalling work will see train services resume on the branch line between Reedham and Lowestoft (serving Berney Arms station), which has been closed since October 2018.

Keeping the Community informed

The level crossing works will require road closures or local management (to control the flow of traffic) to allow engineers to install the new barrier equipment. To ensure that communities have an opportunity to understand how we are going to upgrade the crossings, which roads will be affected and how to use the crossings safely once the works are complete, drop-in events have been planned at:

Location of drop in eventDateTimeLevel Crossings
Lingwood Village Hall, Station Road, NR13 4AZ7 January2pm to 7pmLingwood Station Road and Chapel Road
Brundall Memorial Hall, Links Avenue, NR13 5LL8 January2pm to 8pmBrundall station and Strumpshaw
Cantley Village Hall, NR13 14 January2pm to 8pmCantley Station Road
The Parcels Office, Lowestoft Railway station16 January1pm to 8pmOulton Broad North and Victoria Road

Level Crossing Works

To complete the upgrade works to the level crossings, the following roads will be affected on the dates listed below

CrossingStart DateStart TimeEnd DateEnd TimeDetails
Oulton Broad North08 February

10 February


Closed for 30hrs

Oulton Broad North10 February 23:0015 February05:00Night-time closures only from 23:00 to 05:00 the next morning.
Oulton Broad North15 February 23:0016 February 20:00Closed for 21hrs
Victoria Road5 February 23:008 February 05:00Night-time closures only from 23:00 to0 5:00 the next morning.
Lingwood Station Road10 January 23:0031 January 06:00Closed for 20 days
Lingwood Chapel Road31 January 23:0010 February 20:00Closed for 10 days
Cantley8 February 23:0016 February 06:00Night-time only traffic management controlled from 23:00 to 06:00 the next morning
Strumpshaw10 January 23:0014 February 08:00Closed for 34 days
Brundall3 February 23:0010 February 06:00Night-time only traffic management controlled from 23:00 to 06:00 the next morning.

Diversion routes will be put in place where a suitable alternative is available.

Preserving our Heritage

As the Victoria signalling system is an important part of our railway heritage, we have established a number of 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

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.