While people across the country enjoy well-earned time off and tuck into some tasty treats this Christmas, hundreds of Network Rail Anglia engineers will be out in force upgrading the region’s railway.
Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “Work over Christmas is critical for upgrading and maintaining the railway ahead of the new year, with our teams out on track while so many of us are having fun and relaxing in our homes.
“We have a significant Christmas programme this year, particularly on the lines into Liverpool Street. I hope passengers can understand the need for the upgrades and I’d like to reassure them that we’ll be getting a huge amount done while trains aren’t running. I also want to say thank you to our lineside neighbours for bearing with us while we’re out working hard in their communities.”
The work is essential to keep trains running reliably in 2023 and beyond. Several projects need to continue throughout the festive period.
A major focus of the upgrades will be the lines around Liverpool Street, which will mean that no trains will run into or out of the mainline station from the end of services on Christmas Eve until the start of services on Tuesday 3 January.
This is because of work which includes:
- Bringing a brand-new power system into use that will supply overhead lines between Bow and Shenfield. The new equipment will make this busy section of line fit for the future, supporting the long-term reliable running of both Elizabeth line and Greater Anglia trains.
- Removing an old rail-over-road bridge near Bethnal Green and replacing it with a strong new bridge that will last for decades
- Refurbishing multiple sets of points outside Liverpool Street station. Points allow trains to change between tracks, vital for everyday operations
- Strengthening the Bishopsgate tunnel which runs out of Liverpool Street
Rail replacement buses will operate to help Greater Anglia passengers get to and from London on the Norwich and Southend Victoria lines. Cambridge and Stansted Express services will start and terminate at Tottenham Hale.
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “We appreciate that this work is inconvenient for passengers, but it is vital for the long-term reliability of our busy network.
“We will make sure that our customers can all complete their journeys, even if part of it is by bus.”
London Overground and Elizabeth line trains will also not run into or out of Liverpool Street mainline station, with rail replacement in operation. Liverpool Street Elizabeth line station remains open for those travelling between Abbey Wood and Paddington.
On the c2c lines, work is taking place in the Grays area to replace stretches of overhead wire, reducing the likelihood of equipment failures and power outages. Other maintenance is also being carried out. On the Ockendon line, buses will replace trains on certain days between either Chafford Hundred – Pitsea or Grays – Pitsea. The Rainham line will also not run on some days, so there will be rail replacement between Upminster – Grays.
Rob Mullen, c2c managing director, said: “As the railway tends to be much quieter over the Christmas and New Year period, it is a good opportunity for our colleagues at Network Rail to carry out essential upgrade work to our rail infrastructure.
“We are aware that weekend engineering has particularly affected customers on our Rainham and Ockendon lines over the last couple of months. However, overhead line issues are very disruptive so these works over the festive period will help improve the resilience of this vital equipment.
“We would ask our customers travelling over the festive period to check before they travel. A bus replacement service will also be operating on the Ockendon and Rainham parts of our route.”
Other work on Anglia that will affect train services at times over the festive period includes:
- Carrying out a range of maintenance on the Southend Victoria line and the Southminster branch line, including work on the track, overhead lines and signalling equipment
- Refurbishing points near Gospel Oak station to help London Overground trains run reliably on the line to Barking
- Replacing old rails near Hampstead Heath station, as well as putting in new ballast and sleepers which support the rails. This is to minimise the risk of track faults causing delays on the London Overground between Richmond and Stratford.
- Improving the overhead lines inside a tunnel near Stoke Newington which is used by both London Overground and Greater Anglia trains, as well as doing vegetation management and drainage work further up the line
- Maintaining overhead lines and signalling equipment on the London Overground between Camden Road and Stratford
As much work as possible is being done when most trains don’t run, on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Projects with minimal or no disruption to passengers include:
- Working with a housing developer to keep the railway safe while they construct a vehicle bridge and a footbridge over the East Suffolk Line near Westerfield
- Delivering a range of maintenance on the Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft lines, including using tamping machines, which move the ballast under the track so it’s correctly aligned
- Installing brand new equipment for the Cambridge re-signalling project, which aims to deliver state-of-the-art signalling technology to the area, meaning fewer failures
- Maintaining track and overhead lines on the Clacton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze lines
- Helping important lift maintenance works to take place at Colchester station
Passengers should always check before they travel at greateranglia.co.uk, c2c-online.co.uk and tfl.gov.uk for the Elizabeth line and London Overground. Journeys can also be checked on the National Rail journey planner