Rail services resume as major upgrade from Southend Victoria to Wickford successfully completed

Rail passengers will once again be able to travel on the Southend line as the work to upgrade the overhead lines has been completed on time.

Train services have now resumed following nine days of major engineering work between Southend Victoria and Wickford.

The work saw Network Rail engineers replace 27.8 km of overhead wire, install eight structures, remove 33 redundant structures and to bring into service two electrified train crossovers – which help trains to change between the tracks.

To allow this work to take place safely, no trains could run on this portion of the line and instead, services were replaced by buses with diversionary routes in place to keep passengers moving.

Network Rail is replacing 128km of overhead wires between Southend Victoria and Shenfield with a new auto tension system that adapts to temperature changes. This will improve the reliability of services for years to come for passengers on the Southend Victoria line.

We’re also replacing over 500 structures that support the wires at the correct height and tension as part of the £46m project.

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “We know that this work has caused some disruption and we would like to thank all those affected for their patience.

“Network Rail and Greater Anglia have worked together to keep passengers moving and get this vital upgrade completed, which will improve journeys for anyone using the Southend line.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “We’d like to say a big thank you to our customers for their patience and understanding during the intensive bout of nine days’ work took place.

“We appreciate that they heeded our advice and planned their journeys and work around the revised rail and bus replacement services which we put in place during the works.”

The overhead wires that power the trains were installed in the 1950s and can sag in hot weather. To prevent them getting tangled with the train speed restrictions are imposed, which cause delays.

The work that was completed over the nine day period will help us to complete the project two months earlier in March 2020 instead of May 2020, with 11 fewer weeks of mid-week closures and six fewer weekend closures.