THE Southend Pier train, which visitors can use to travel between the shore and pier head, will be closed for up to 12 weeks after more repair work than initially thought is needed.

This is to allow emergency pile caps repairs to be completed.  The walkway remains open for visitors to enjoy the Pier on foot.

Ann Holland, Executive Councillor for Culture, Tourism and the Economy, said: “Following further extensive investigations on the Pier, it has been identified that 27 pile caps need to be replaced.

“This is more than we had originally anticipated and hoped as we believe that this work is going to take approximately 12 weeks.

“Most of these caps are on the Pier’s eastern row of piles, which impact significantly on the operation of the train line. Therefore the train service will remain closed until the work has been completed. There is no issue with the walkway and local residents and visitors can continue to enjoy our world famous pier on foot. 

“With the summer season upon us this is very disappointing news, but of course safety must come first.  We have hired some buggies to help ensure that our evacuation procedures in the event of an emergency remain sound. We are trying to be as flexible as we can within the emergency procedures required, to make some of the buggies available for visitors with severe mobility issues.

“As part of our emergency planning and to test the new arrangements, the council and our colleagues in the blue light services will be conducting an emergency evacuation exercise on Wednesday which will require the closure of the Pier and Pier Hill until 1pm.

“Organisers of upcoming events and weddings due to be held on the pier in the coming weeks are being contacted to ensure their special day goes ahead as planned.  We will continue to run as many events as possible and would encourage everyone to go to to see what’s on.

“It is only thanks to the regular condition surveys, monitoring and capital investment in its maintenance that these structural defects have come to light and I am grateful that we have been able to identify these issues and deal with them.”