A multimillion-pound scheme to lengthen the platforms at nine railway stations in Essex gets under way this week.
Once complete, the scheme will mean all stations on the Thameside route between London Fenchurch Street and Southend Central and Shoeburyness are capable of handling 12-car trains.
With passengers numbers in London and the south east expected to rise by a third over the next twenty years, longer platforms and longer trains will play a crucial role in dealing with overcrowding. On the Thameside route in particular, planned new housing projects are forecast to lead to considerable increases in the numbers of people travelling by rail.
Stations having their platforms extended are Dagenham Dock, Rainham, Purfleet, Grays, Tilbury Town, East Tilbury, Stanford-le-Hope, Pitsea (which is also undergoing work to install new footbridges and lifts) and Ockendon.
Andrew Munden, Network Rail route director, said: “Britain relies on rail to get millions of people to and from work, the shops or school each day. As the numbers of people travelling by rail continues to grow, it’s schemes like this which will provide the bigger, better railway that’s needed to meet that growth.”
Work on the scheme starts in early February, when contractors will clear away space needed for the platform extensions. Local authority planning and environmental officers have been consulted to ensure this work doesn’t impact on local wildlife.
The main construction phase will take place in the summer and autumn, with all longer platforms due to be complete by the end of the year. Work will be carried out in a way which minimises disruption to train services and local residents.