Crouch Valley Line
|Crouch Valley Line|
South Woodham Ferrers station
East of England
|Rolling stock||British Rail Class 315
British Rail Class 321
British Rail Class 360 occasionally
|Line length||~24 mi (39 km)|
|No. of tracks||One (Two at North Fambridge)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||25 kV 50hz AC OHLE|
|Operating speed||75 mph maximum|
The Crouch Valley Line is a branch line from Wickford to Southminster in Essex. It is usually called the Southminster Branch  by users of the line, although that is no longer its official name. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 7, SRS 07.05 and is classified as a London and South East commuter line.
The 16.5 miles (26.6 km) route was first opened to goods traffic on 1 June 1889, and to passengers on 1 July 1889 by the Great Eastern Railway. The line was electrified at 25 kV AC overhead in 1986.
Passenger services are currently operated by Abellio Greater Anglia. They replaced the previous operator, National Express East Anglia on 5 February 2012. First Great Eastern previously operated the line until 1 April 2004, when all the operators in East Anglia were merged into one new franchise.
The number of trains on the Crouch Valley Line is restricted to two trains per hour (one train in each direction) on weekends and every 40 minutes on weekdays, with additional trains during the rush-hour. This is due to the limited capacity available after the line was reduced to single track in the 1960s as part of the Beeching Axe railway closures. The line was also used to take waste and fuel rods from Bradwell's decommissioned nuclear power station to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing facility in Cumbria, but this service has now ceased. There are early stage plans to consider the construction of a new nuclear power station on the Bradwell site, which if given the go-ahead would bring with it the possibility of rail based construction material transport and future nuclear reprocessing rail traffic.
The line diverges from the Shenfield-Southend Victoria line at Wickford. It is single track throughout, with a passing loop at North Fambridge station (the midpoint of the line) to allow trains travelling in opposite directions to pass. The line is electrified at 25 kV AC, has a loading gauge of W6, and a line speed of 40–75 mph.