SOUTHEND High Street will be cut in half and train services stopped for two days as workmen replace a 130-year-old bridge.
The area under the High Street rail bridge will be closed to pedestrians and almost 250 buses will replace trains on Saturday, February 2, and Sunday, February 3, as Netword Rail carry out the £2million replacement work.
Steve Knight, general manager at Network Rail, said: “The work we are carrying out at Southend High Street is essential to keep improving the railway in Essex. The line from Fenchurch Street to Shoebury is the most punctual in the country and this work is essential to continue delivering consistent levels of service to passengers.
"We are combining the work on the bridge, which has come to the end of its life, with improvements to the track and new lighting in the area.”
The work will mean pedestrians will not be able to walk under the bridge and signs will be installed directing them to diversionary routes.
Stewards will be on both sides of the bridge to direct people to these routes.
The scheme, which includes improved lighting to the public highway and new track, will mean the current structure is replaced with a new bridge designed to last for at least the next 120 years.
Buses will replace trains between Southend Central and Shoebury in both directions.
There will be a bus every 15 minutes for most of Saturday and a half-hourly service at other times.
Train services between Southend Central and the rest of the c2c line will be unaffected.
Mr Knight said: “The High Street in Southend will be open for business as usual and we are working hard with Southend Council and the town centre partnership to miminise any disruption to shoppers.
“Signage will be installed in the local area to give people alternative routes. We do appreciate this project will cause some disruption and thank the people of the area for their understanding."
Dawn Jeakings, chairman of the town centre partnership, said: “We are in conversation with Network Rail over the work.
“If it’s an old bridge and it needs repairing and replacing, this needs to be done. It’s just about communicating it in the right way.”
For more information about the rail replacement bus service visit www.c2c-online.co.uk/travel_information/service_alterations/planned_service_alterations.