Network Rail has completed essential track and maintenance work between Marks Tey and Chelmsford on Greater Anglia’s main line from London to Norwich.
The work was essential to keep services running safely and reliably. It took place at weekends throughout September, October, and November, and included:
- maintenance of points and crossings to keep them in good working order;
- remedying track defects to prevent delays from faulty track;
- maintenance of the track, signalling and overhead lines;
- using a high output ballast cleaner to clean the ballast.
Advantage was taken of the closure to carry out other routine maintenance on the track, signalling, and overhead lines.
Keeping the track in good condition is essential to ensure the safety and reliability of rail services. Over time track becomes worn, and the busier the network, the more wear takes place. Engineers work throughout the year to keep on top of repairs and maintenance to prevent delays due to track defects.
Ballast consists of layers of stones and is used to improve drainage and support the track bed, and is essential for keeping the track stable. It also prevents growth of vegetation, and allows water to drain away to keep the sleepers dry.
Over time, as trains pass, the stones rub together and become fine pieces of granite similar to sand. When combined with water the grains stick together, turning the ballast into a lump of concrete which hinders drainage and the ability of the ballast to keep the track stable as it moves under traffic. Ballast cleaning removes worn ballast, screens it, and replaces old ballast with new angular ballast. Routine cleaning of the ballast helps prevent delays caused by flooding, landslips, and track defects.
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.”