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Network Rail overhead power line upgrade beats the heat

Network Rail Heat  Source Network Rail

A £250M upgrade to overhead power lines on the Norwich, Suffolk and Essex lines to London Liverpool Street has been completed.

Temperatures on rail lines can be 20ºC higher than the air temperature. The result is often sagging overhead powerlines – and slower train services. 

Network Rail is upgrading overhead lines across 320km on its network. Since March 2014, the Railway Upgrade Plan has replaced 87km with wires that have increased heat resistance. 

The London Liverpool Street to Chelmsford route accounts for 21km of the wire replacement. 

“This is a huge and very important project to provide a better, more reliable railway for passengers on this busy route,” said Richard Schofield, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia.

“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.”

Wires and overhead structures on the route date back to the 1950s. The new lines, also found on European networks, use weights and counter-weights to remain taut during temperature changes.

Network Rail aims to replace 32km more wire between Shenfield and Liverpool Street by the end of the year.

The project is expected to be complete in 2019. 

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