Published on : Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Passengers travelling on the line connecting Norwich, Suffolk and Essex with London Liverpool Street will experience fewer heat related delays to train services in summer, following a major upgrade of the overhead lines which power the trains.
The £250m project, which is part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, aims to replace 320km of overhead line – which expands and sags when temperatures rise, causing delays to passengers – with new wire that is not affected by the heat. Since March 2014, when the project began, 87km of new wire has been installed and 21km of that has been installed this year between Chelmsford and London Liverpool Street.
During hot weather, temperatures on the railway can be up to 20 degrees hotter than air temperatures away from the track. On the Anglia route, this causes the old wires to sag and temporary speed restrictions need to be imposed to prevent the trains from damaging them and causing cancellations to services. Following installation of the new wire earlier this year at Chelmsford, the speed restriction that is usually put in place in hot weather has been removed between Chelmsford and Shenfield. There is potential for more heat-related speed restrictions to be lifted as the upgrade progresses, meaning fewer delays during hot weather and improved reliability for passengers.
Richard Schofield, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “This is a huge and very important project to provide a better, more reliable railway for passengers on this busy route. Removing the hot weather speed restriction between Chelmsford and Shenfield is a great start and shows the improvements this project will deliver as our Railway Upgrade Plan for passengers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex continues.”
Jamie Burles, managing director for Abellio Greater Anglia, said: “We are very pleased that the project to replace the overhead wires on the Great Eastern Main Line is progressing well and we welcome the positive impact this initiative will have on our customers’ journeys. The benefits of the new equipment will be improved reliability and overhead lines that don’t sag in the heat – thereby avoiding the imposition of speed restrictions on hot days and enabling us to deliver a more punctual train service.”
The original overhead lines and structures on this busy route into London were installed in the 1950s and the new wire, which is also installed on train lines across Europe, brings the railway up to modern standards, using a system of weights and counter-weights to keep the overhead lines taut at all times, regardless of changes in temperature.
A further 32km of wire will be replaced between Shenfield and London Liverpool Street before the end of the year, including a large section of wire at Gidea Park, which will not only provide improvements in the summer, but improve reliability for passengers all year round. The project is due to complete in 2019.