West Anglia Main Line
The West Anglia Main Line is one of the two main lines which run from Liverpool Street, the other being the Great Eastern Main Line. It runs generally north from London, through the towns of Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Harlow, Bishop's Stortford and Audley End (near Saffron Walden) station before reaching Cambridge, with two branches serving Hertford and Stansted Airport. The line runs along the border between Hertfordshire and Essex for much of its length.
The line was opened in the 1840s. The first section was built for the Northern and Eastern Railway from Stratford to Broxbourne and opened in 1840. It was extended northwards in stages, reaching Spellbrook 3 miles (5 km) short of Bishops Stortford in 1842. In 1845 the N&ER reached Bishops Stortford, and the Eastern Counties Railway opened the section from Bishops Stortford to Cambridge as part of its extension to Ely and Brandon.
Services from Liverpool Street to Cambridge, Hertford East and Stansted Airport are operated by Greater Anglia.
Express services from Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport are operated by Stansted Express, a sub-brand of Greater Anglia.
In London, the line also forms the Tottenham Hale branch of the Lea Valley Lines.
The line is double track for most of its length, with small sections of single track on the Stansted branch and at Ware, with some quadruple track between Hackney Downs and Liverpool Street. The line is electrified at 25 kV AC and has a loading gauge of W8 for most of it length except for the Stansted branch which is W6.
The Greater Anglia RUS, published in December 2007, outlined a number of developments intended for the West Anglia route. Proposals for the period 2009-14 include the extension of remaining non-compliant platforms on the Liverpool Street-Cambridge route and at Stansted Airport to handle 12 cars; the reinstatement of 9-car trains during peak times on the Hertford East, Enfield Town, Cheshunt via Southbury and Chingford branch services, requiring a small amount of infrastructure; stabling and maintenance facilities for the larger, enhanced fleet; removal of the three level crossings between Tottenham Hale and Waltham Cross and power supply to be enhanced for some of these options and likely future requirements.
If Stansted Airport's expansion is authorised it is planned that the Main Line will see many further changes. Long term proposals include the four-tracking of the route between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne junction; an additional tunnel and platform edge on the Stansted Airport branch; one additional train per hour serving Stansted and up to six further trains per hour at peak times, including four into Stratford as a terminus. More stations, such as Broxbourne, will also have platform extensions to accommodate 12 car trains.
In early 2011, ticket barriers were installed at Bishop's Stortford, Harlow Town, Broxbourne, Cheshunt and Hackney Downs, some of the busiest stations on the line. This was done to reduce the need for ticket inspectors on the Stansted Express service and reduce fare evasion.