Shenfield–Southend line

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Shenfield–Southend line
Southend Victoria railway station.JPG
Southend Victoria is the eastern terminus of the line
Type Commuter rail
System National Rail
Locale Essex
Termini Shenfield
Southend Victoria
Stations 9
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Abellio Greater Anglia
Depot(s) Ilford
Rolling stock Class 321
Line length 22 miles 26 chains (35.9 km)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 25 kV 50 Hz AC OHLE
Operating speed 90 mph (140 km/h)
Route map

The Shenfield–Southend line is a branch line off the Great Eastern Main Line in Essex, in the east of England. It links Shenfield in the west to Southend Victoria, in Southend-on-Sea, in the east. The vast majority of services connect to or from the Great Eastern Main Line and its London terminus at Liverpool Street.

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.[1] Passenger services on the line are currently operated by Abellio Greater Anglia.


The line, as well as the Crouch Valley line which branches off it at Wickford, was opened in 1888–89 and represented the largest railway building project undertaken by the Great Eastern Railway (GER) in Essex. The 15 stations of these "New Essex" lines were the epitome of the "Domestic Revival" style pioneered on the GER by their architect, W. N. Ashbee, which came to be known as the New Essex or Ashbee style. The stations on the Shenfield–Southend line are largely in their original form, including canopies.[2][3]

The line has been electrified at different times throughout its history using three different systems, all of which use overhead lines to carry the electric current. The first system used was 1500 V d.c., commissioned in 1956,[4][5] following the commissioning of the main line from London to Shenfield in 1949.[6] This was to replace an intensive steam service. In the 1960s the line was converted to 6.25 kV, 50 Hz as part of the decision by the British Transport Commission to adopt 25 kV 50 Hz electrification as the standard system rather than 1500 V d.c. electrification. The line did not immediately use 25 kV due to problems with clearances under bridges. In 1979, it was converted for a second time to 25 kV following more research into the permissible clearances to structures.[7]


The line diverges from the Great Eastern Main Line at Shenfield and is double track throughout. It is 22 miles 26 chains (35.9 km) in length.

It is electrified at 25 kV, has a loading gauge of W6, and a maximum line speed of 80 mph, increasing to 90 mph where it joins the Great Eastern Main Line.[1]


All the stations and services on the line are currently operated by Abellio Greater Anglia. The company took over from National Express East Anglia in 2012, which in turn had replaced the previous operator First Great Eastern in 2004, when all the operators in East Anglia were merged into one new franchise.

The majority of services run between Southend Victoria and London Liverpool Street, although a limited service operates only between Shenfield and Southend Victoria. Trains are typically formed of Class 321 units. A typical journey along the length of the line takes 35 minutes.


  1. ^ a b "Route 7 – Great Eastern" (PDF). Network Rail. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  2. ^ Kay, Peter (2006). Essex Railway Heritage. Wivenhoe UK: Peter Kay. p. 29. ISBN 978 1 899890 40 8. 
  3. ^ Trimley Station Community Trust: History, accessed 31 August 2015
  4. ^ Cooke, B.W.C., ed. (February 1957). "Electric Trains to Southend". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 103 no. 670. Westminster: Tothill Press. p. 73. 
  5. ^ Cooke, B.W.C., ed. (February 1957). "Electrification to Southend Victoria". Notes and News. The Railway Magazine. Vol. 103 no. 670. Westminster: Tothill Press. pp. 136–7. 
  6. ^ Fiennes, Gerard (1967). I Tried to Run a Railway. Shepperton, England: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0447-1. 
  7. ^ Glover, John (2003). Eastern Electric. Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-2934-2. 

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