Network Rail has announced planned engineering work to be undertaken in Norfolk, as part of a modernisation programme on the Wherry Lines between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.
The planned engineering work, due to take place in February 2020, will see passengers benefit from a significant upgrade in reliability and safety when a digitally-enabled signalling system is installed and goes live.
Modernisation works on the line are expected to take 23 days.
Currently the line operates with mechanical Victorian semaphore signals – some of the oldest in the country – which are now set to be replaced with a modern, computerised signalling system. Plans for the modernisation of the route’s signalling system have been in the pipeline for some time now, with a date finally set.
Network Rail is committed to bringing all of its assets into the digital age and ensuring a safer environment for passengers and rail workers, as well as improving passenger experience, providing better live passenger information and quicker recovery if the system fails.
The new signalling system will be controlled from the Colchester Rail Operating Centre.
As part of the works, the signals will be switched on and six level crossings at Brundall, Cantley, Lingwood Chapel Road, Lingwood Station Road, Oulton Broad North and Strumpshaw will be upgraded to full barriers with remotely controlled CCTV which will improve safety for level crossing users.
Network Rail have also rescheduled repairs and renewals work to coincide with the closure, including a full bridge replacement at Postwick and track renewals at Lowestoft, Acle and Hassingham. The bridge at Postwick has come to the end of its life, and a new bridge structure will be installed that is designed to last 120 years.
Additional maintenance works will be carried out to Reedham and Somerleyton swing bridges to improve reliability of services by upgrading the current detection systems which have been in use since the mid-1940s.
In order to complete the re-signalling and renewals plans, the 23 days of work will be carried out over three phases starting at the beginning of February 2020, and will affect passenger services on the line during those times.
Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: ““We will deliver a large package of railway upgrade works for passengers across the Wherry lines during just over a three-week period in February 2020.
“I’m sorry that 23 days of engineering works will be difficult for passengers but completing these large-scale projects and maintenance in one coordinated effort, will help reduce the overall amount of disruption and deliver a safer, modern and reliable railway for many years to come.”
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, added: ”We are sorry to customers for the inconvenience that this engineering work causes them, but we will make sure they can still complete their journeys, even if some of it is by bus.
“By carrying out the work in a 23-day block, Network Rail is able to complete the work sooner and quicker with fewer weekend works.
“Along with Network Rail, we are transforming the railway in Norfolk, and this major upgrade, combined with our new trains, is bringing it into the 21st century.