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Overhead line upgrade to cut heat-related delays on key London route

13 June 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review

Passengers will experience fewer heat related delays this summer thanks to a major upgrade of overhead lines on the Norwich, Suffolk and Essex route to London Liverpool Street.

Overhead line upgrade will reduce heat-related delays on key London route

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.

87km of new overhead line wire installed

During hot weather, temperatures on the railway can be up to 20 degrees hotter than air temperatures away from the track.  According to Network Rail, this causes the old wires on the Anglia route to sag and temporary speed restrictions put in place to prevent the trains from damaging them. This caused cancellations to services. Following installation of the new wire earlier this year, speed restrictions usually put in place during hot weather have been removed between Chelmsford and Shenfield.

Overhead line upgrade will reduce heat-related delays on key London route

Shenfield Gantry

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.”

“We are very pleased that the project to replace the overhead wires on the Great Eastern Main Line is progressing well”

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.”

A further 32km of wire will be replaced between Shenfield and London Liverpool Street before the end of the year. The project is due to complete in 2019.

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