c2c line status: Good service

Speed restrictions on c2c

Thursday 13 October

Dear customer,

We are very sorry for the delays many of you have experienced in recent weeks. Over the summer the ground beneath the railway has dried out and this has caused the track bed to become uneven in some places. As a result Network Rail has put several speed restrictions in place. We know this has delayed many of your journeys, particularly at peak times, and we really do understand how frustrating this has been for you.

Network Rail engineers are working to fix the ground conditions and re-level the track bed so that the speed restrictions can be removed and you can continue your journeys as usual. We are really sorry for the delays this has caused and thank you for your patience while this work is carried out. We expect the position will significantly improve in the next week or two.

We hope the Q&A below helps to explain the issue.

Richard Schofield
Route Managing Director, Network Rail

Julian Drury
Managing Director, c2c

Why are services delayed?

There are currently a number of temporary speed restrictions in place on the c2c route. Owing to ground conditions, which have caused the track bed to become uneven in some places, Network Rail has put speed restrictions in place for safety reasons. This means that trains are running at 20mph or 40mph in some places, rather than 70mph, for stretches of up to three miles.

These speed restrictions make it impossible for some services to keep to their normal timings, and causes knock-on delays for other trains, especially at peak times.

What has caused this problem?

As many residents in Basildon and Thurrock know, much of the local soil is London clay. Over the summer this soil has dried out and contracted. While the railway above has extensive ballast to form a solid base, this makes the track bed uneven. You may have already noticed this can mean a bumpy journey when trains run over the track at normal high speeds.

Why hasn’t this been a problem before?

This is a long-standing issue that happens naturally every autumn. However the impact has been particularly severe this year.

How is it being fixed?

Network Rail engineers are working to fix the issues as fast as possible. A special New Measurement Train has already reviewed the affected areas with its ultrasonic cameras and lasers, providing a detailed analysis of the soil and track conditions. This has already allowed some speed restrictions to be relaxed or removed.

The remaining areas will be treated using another specialist train, which moves the ballast beneath the track to create a solid foundation. Once this is complete, the track bed will be level and the speed restrictions will be removed so that c2c trains can return to their normal fast speeds. Each speed restriction will be lifted as soon as work is complete on each section until they have all been removed.

Why can’t you better plan for this?

Work to fix the ground and smooth the track bed cannot happen until it has become uneven, so there is no way of preventing the problem from occurring.

Is it safe for trains to run?

Yes it is. Trains cannot run at their normal speed as this may cause more problems and the uneven track bed will cause a bumpy journey which can be very uncomfortable. However, it is entirely safe to run at reduced speed limits which have been introduced as a temporary measure, until the track is fixed.