HOTRS train in operation

Track works planned between London and Cambridge

Vital work to replace worn track on the West Anglia Main Line between London and Cambridge is expected to take place, with passengers set to benefit from more reliable journeys as a result of the replacement project.

Over two weekends, just over two miles of tracks will be replaced between Stansted and Broxbourne.

The first weekend, between March 6 and March 7, 2021, will see around 120 tonnes of ballast and 2,280 tonnes of sleepers will be replaced, with a further 180 tonnes of ballast and 2,880 tonnes of sleepers being replaced between March 20 and March 21, 2021.

Tracks end up getting worn from constant use by trains each day, even more so on busy main lines.

Engineers carry out inspections and repairs regularly, but eventually it reaches a stage where the tracks will need to replaced to avoid faults, which could cause delays and cancellations to surveys.

Using the high output track relaying system (HOTRS) train, Network Rail engineers can quickly replace existing rails and sleepers with high-performing new ones. It operates similar to a conveyor belt, with the front part of the train running on the old rails and the rear operating on the new rail that the system has installed.

This means a greater quantity of track can be replaced within the same timeframe, which is essential on a high traffic track such as the West Anglia Main Line, where the volume wears out faster.

Due to the nature of this work, it can only take place when trains are not running, with Network Rail advising that there is likely to be some disruption to services using the line during these two weekend periods.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s Route Director for Anglia, said: “This work is essential to keep services running safely and reliably for our passengers on the West Anglia main line. Track wears faster on the busy main lines and replacing it will reduce the number of delays and cancellations caused by track issues.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director, added: “This important work will help improve punctuality and reliability on our busy West Anglia route.

“We would like to thank customers for their patience while this work is carried out.

“Government advice is currently to stay at home and only travel for legally permissible reasons such as work or medical appointments. We will make sure you can travel safely, both on the train and rail replacement bus. Everyone should wear a face covering while travelling with us for their entire journey, unless they are exempt.”


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