Improvements to track at Liverpool Street

Delays reduced at Liverpool Street through new engineering programme

A revolutionary 12-month programme of electrical works, infrastructure upgrades and operational changes to boost reliability on a critical section of track between Liverpool Street station and Bethnal Greeen has been completed by Network Rail.

The section of railway, known as the Golden Mile, is known for being the busiest stretch on the entire Anglia route. It is used by every train entering or leaving Liverpool Street, so any problems can cause major delays and cancellations for passengers.  

Concluded at the end of August, the improvement programme included the replacement of 300 insulated block joints (IBJs), which are pieces of equipment used to separate electrical circuits on the track. IBJs are vital because they allow the computerized signalling system to pinpoint the exact location of trains in the area.

If an IBJ fails, which happens more regularly as they get older and wear out, to keep everyone safe all the trains are stopped. This subsequently causes hours of delays while the system is repaired and the service gets back to normal.

The new IBJs on the Golden Mile are far less likely to fail than the equipment they have replaced, reducing the possibility of disruption. Engineers are also working on new ways to maintain and clean the IBJs, thereby helping them to work effectively now and into the future.

Statistics show how the programme has already reduced delays. In the 16-week period from 1 April 2019, when work was just getting started, there were 8530 minutes of delay caused by track and point faults outside Liverpool Street station.

Over exactly the same time period in 2020, when the work was coming to an end, there were just 861 minutes of delay caused by these faults, a landmark achievement even taking into account the fact that fewer trains were running over the lockdown period.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail Route Director for Anglia, said: “The track between Liverpool Street station and Bethnal Green is vitally important on our route and being the busiest section, reliability here is crucial to the whole network. We decided to intensify our focus on this part of the railway to drive down delays and deliver a better service for passengers.

“The completion of this work last month is a milestone in our journey to transforming the Golden Mile. It shows what we can achieve through a combination of innovative engineering and close collaboration with our train operating partners."

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director, said: “A majority of our services use the Golden Mile stretch of track so it’s crucial that it’s maintained to the highest standards.

“We are working with Network Rail and are doing all we can to improve performance and punctuality and it’s great that we are already reaping the benefits of this engineering work."

Rail Technology Magazine latest edition Jun/Jul 22

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