Southend Victoria branch line improvements
Following customer feedback, the £46m project work to replace the entire overhead wiring system and structures on the railway between Southend Victoria and Shenfield is expected to finish sooner than originally planned.
The new plan sees a reduction of 11 weeks of midweek night works and six weekend works compared to previous plans. This will enable the majority of the work in the project to finish two months early in March 2020, instead of May 2020.
This has been made possible by deploying additional resources and agreeing a nine-day closure of the branch line between Wickford and Southend Victoria at the end of May 2019 that will help get more upgrade work done in less time.
Why is this work necessary?
The overhead wires and supporting structures which power our trains are over 60 years old. The wires can sag in hot weather leading to speed restrictions being imposed. By installing a new auto tension system, this will help keep the wires at the correct tension in the hot weather and avoid the need to impose speed restrictions.
The revised plan
We understand your frustrations caused by these inconvenient rail replacement bus services during late night, mid-weeks and at weekends. So over the last few months, we have been working with Network Rail to look at what can be done to speed up the works and for them to be carried out at times which are less inconvenient for you.
The revised plan includes:
- The line between Wickford and Southend Victoria will close for nine days over the May 2019 half term holiday (25 May until 2 June). A limited rail replacement bus service will run between all intermediate stations, and there will be reduced service between Wickford and London, so our advice to you is to use alternative transport where possible.
- The continuation of the current weekend closures until 29 and 30 June 2019
- Midweek work in March and April will take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. These will start later with the last train from London Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria running at 10:45pm. To accommodate this, the first train the following morning will run at 4.45am from Southend Victoria rather than the usual time of 4am.
- The line will remain open for most of the summer months. There will be no weekend works during July and most of August, with the exception of the first trains starting later on Sunday mornings and a full closure over the August bank holiday weekend.
From September, the weekend works will resume and the plan is currently being agreed by all parties. While this is subject to change, these are the works that are likely to take place:
- A programme of weekend work, with rail replacement between some stations most weekends over September, October and November. Providing the work progresses as planned, we will look at the feasibility of running trains between London and Wickford on most weekends during this period.
- Train services to be suspended on the branch line between Christmas and New Year 2019, with work planned to focus on the complex junction at Wickford.
- A final phase of weekend works, when buses replace trains, to begin from the first weekend of January 2020 and continue every weekend until the end of March, with one final weekend required on 18 and 19 April 2020 (Easter weekend).
- In addition to the above overhead line work, we will need to undertake midweek track work in early 2020, but this should be possible to complete while keeping most trains running. The Southminster line should remain open as normal while the works on the Southend Victoria line are completed.
Revised rail and bus timetables for the nine day closure from 25 May to 2 June are now online, please check the daily service alterations.
Ticket acceptance has now been agreed for Greater Anglia monthly or longer and annual season ticket holders only for all nine days of the line closure. Greater Anglia customers should use Fenchurch Street and Limehouse stations.
Passengers should be aware that c2c trains will be very busy and so they may not get a seat. In addition, they are advised not to drive to c2c stations, as there will be very limited capacity at station car parks.