How should the Great Eastern mainline be improved?

Haughley junction

Haughley junction needs to be improved. - Credit: Gregg Brown

What needs to be done to upgrade the main line from London to Norwich?

Improvements to Bow Junction: Near the "throat" where the lines out of Liverpool Street converge on each other there can be serious congestion problems - that is why trains often have to wait to get into the station. 

Sorting out these tracks is a major problem, but once Crossrail is fully operational taking many of the suburban trains out of the main line station it should be possible to undertake this work - if the money can be found.

An extra track near Chelmsford: When the Taskforce was first formed there was talk of a long stretch of third track between Chelmsford and Witham to add capacity to the busiest two-line track in the country.

That has now been scaled back to an extra line through the proposed Beaulieu Park station which is due to open on the outskirts of Chelmsford in 2025/6.

Remodelling Haughley Junction: This was reduced to a single line for the cross-country route to Cambridge and Ely back in the 1960s but that is inadequate for the increased passenger and freight traffic now using this route.

The benefit for the main line between Ipswich and Norwich would be marginal - trains on that route can travel fast over it anyway - but it is vital for the cross-country route. It is a comparatively easy job to reinstate a second line and may be one of the first improvements to be completed.

Trowse Swing Bridge.

Trowse Swing Bridge was installed in 1987. - Credit: Mike Page

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Trowse bridge and junction, Norwich: A new swing bridge with a single track was installed when the linen was electrified in 1987. 

This would be fine if it only carried the Intercity line, but it also carries the cross-country route from Norwich to Ely and that is seeing increasing numbers of trains, It needs to be replaced if cross-country traffic is to grow.

Upgrade signal systems in Essex: Signalling between Colchester and Shenfield needs to be replaced to allow more trains to operate safely on the tracks

That would increase the number of trains able to use the route - but it would cause considerable disruption while it is being installed.

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