The Anonymous Widower

Will The Chelmsford Avoiding Line Be Rebuilt?

I took this picture at Chelmsford station yesterday.

Chelmsford Station

Note the wide space between the two tracks. This was for an avoiding line as detailed in Wikipedia.

There were originally three lines through the station: two platform lines and an avoiding line between them. An unusual signal box (being some five storeys high at the rear) on the London-bound platform controlled the station including, at the eastern end, a set of sidings that served the goods yard and Hoffman ball bearing factory. The signal box ceased to be used in 1994 but the structure has remained in situ since. The avoiding line has been removed and the sidings were reduced to serve only a mail sorting office and building materials yard.

Given that more and faster trains will be running through the station, could the avoiding line be reinstated?

  • Faster trains could overtake trains, that were stopped in the station.
  • It would probably make it easier for trains to terminate at Chelmsford, as they would block a platform.
  • Modern slab track means that lines can be more precisely positioned.
  • It might be possible for freight trains to use the avoiding line.
  • Does Norwich-in-Ninety need the avoiding line?

I also suspect that it is probably about time, that the track was fully relaid.

Factors against reinstatement include.

  • The modern trains arriving in a few years all have a higher cruising speed, so the need to overtake may be needed less.
  • The modern trains will be able to perform a stop, reload and start at a station much quicker than the current stock.
  • It is probably reasonable to assume that both fleets of trains; Flirts and Aventras, will have a similar performance and stop profile.
  • A new station could be built at Beaulieu, which is a few miles North of Chelmsford and might be a better terminus in the area.
  • Trains could also overtake at Beaulieu.

In addition, does Chelmsford need all the disruption?

I think that for the near future, the modern trains and Beaulieu station may be sufficient to allow Norwich-in-Ninety and Ipswich-in-Sixty to be fully implimented.

But long term, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new Chelmsford station built at the site.


October 19, 2016 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , ,


  1. Yes but stopping trains stop at stations and ‘fast’ trains don’t, which is why there needs to be a overtaking opportunity, although whether one is needed at this station would require further study.

    Comment by Mark Clayton | October 19, 2016 | Reply

    • What seems to be happening on the Great Eastern Main Line is that all passenger trains can run at a speed of at least 110 mph, so there will be a succession of fast trains one-after-the-other out of London as far as Colchester. North of Colchester there are probably 3-4 trains per hour on a twin track railway.

      There are various passing places and loops for freight trains, along the line except North of Ipswich, where the trains are held until their slot.

      It’s not as busy as say the East and West Coast Main Lines, except between Shenfield and Liverpool Street, where it is four-track.

      As Chelmsford station is on a viaduct, it would probably not be needed to create an avoiding line, especially as if they built Beaulieu a few miles to the North passing could happen there.

      I thyink building the avoiding line could be one of those jobs that is fine in theory, but stupid in practice.

      Queuing up high performance trains is a more affordable solution. After looking at the Ordsall Chord,

      I do wonder if the new high performance trains like Aventras will really open up the line of stations from Piccadilly to Victoria, when the chord has been built.

      Politicians like to overcomplicate and micromanage. I think if you get the timetabling right, you can get a much higher capacity through a bottleneck.

      It’s like in London, Network Rail had a plan for Thameslink, which was changed by a vocal minority of MPs in Parliament. Their meddling on behave of a few constituents may not degrade perforance, but I’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.

      Comment by AnonW | October 19, 2016 | Reply

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