Network Rail has completed essential track and maintenance works between Marks Tey and Chelmsford on the busy London to Norwich main line.
The work was completed over a series of weekends throughout September, October and November and is essential to keep services running safely and reliably on the busy main line, which included:
- Maintenance works to the switches and crossings units to keep them in good working order
- Removing track defects to prevent delays from track issues
- Track, signalling and overhead line maintenance works
- High output ballast cleaning work to improve drainage and support the track bed
Keeping the track in good condition is essential for the safe and reliable running of rail services. The busier the network, the more worn track becomes over time. Engineers keep on top of repairs and maintenance throughout the year to prevent delays caused by track issues. The switches and crossings units enable trains to change from one track to another which is essential for diverting rail traffic if there’s an issue ahead, to minimise delays.
The stones that make the track bed are called ballast and it is essential for keeping the track stable, prevents growth of vegetation and allows water to drain away to keep the sleepers dry. Over time, the ballast wears down and fine pieces of granite, like sand, are created when the stones rub together as trains pass. This all sticks together when combined with water, turning the ballast into a lump of concrete which hinders drainage and the flexibility of the ballast to constrain the track as it moves under traffic. Ballast cleaning removes the worn ballast, screens it and replaces the old ballast with new angular ballast. This helps prevent delays caused by flooding, landslips and track issues.
Other routine track, signalling and overhead line maintenance works were also completed at the same time to make the most of the closure and improve reliability.
Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “We’ve completed a package of track, overhead line and maintenance work that is vital for improving reliability and reducing delays for passengers travelling on the busy Norwich to London main line. I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while we carried out this work.”
Photo credit: Network Rail