A REVISED programme has been agreed for overhead wire replacement work between Shenfield and Southend Victoria.

The move follows local criticism of the extent of closures. The £46 million programme is replacing the overhead wires and structures on the route, with a total of 128km of new wires being installed. Network Rail reports that so far over 400 structures have been installed between Shenfield and Southend and 19km of new overhead wire installed between Shenfield and Wickford. The overhead on the route is over 60 years old, and NR says a new auto-tension system will improve the resilience of the wires in hot weather.

The new plan agreed by NR and operator Greater Anglia brings forward completion by two months to March 2020, with a reduction of 11 weeks of midweek night works and six weekend works. However, it now incorporates a line closure between Wickford and Southend Victoria from 25 May until 2 June 2019, coinciding with this year’s May half-term holiday.

Current weekend closures will continue until the end of June, with the line open for most of the summer, apart from a closure over August bank holiday weekend. Weekend closures will resume in September, although if work proceeds as planned the companies will aim to run trains as far as Wickford. The branch will be shut between Christmas and New Year to allow work on the junction at Wickford, with weekend closures resuming for the first three months of 2020 and one final closure over Easter weekend 2020.