South Essex Branch

720522 passes through Witham with a service to Colchester Town on 20th May 2021


Welcome to the website of the South Essex Branch of the RCTS. We are an active group of professional railwaymen and rail enthusiasts and we welcome any new members that live in Essex and East London along with visitors from other branches.


We meet at Shenfield Parish Hall, 60 Hutton Road, Shenfield CM15 8LB, commencing at 19.30. The Hall is just 5-10 mins walk from Shenfield railway station with frequent Greater Anglia and TFL Rail Services. A donation of £ 3.00 members / £ 4.00 non-members is requested. Should you like more information, please contact the Branch Secretary, whose contact details can be found under the ‘Contacts’ menu on the left side of this page.

Great Eastern Main Line

745009 with a Norwich to Liverpool Street Service North of Witham

The main railway activity is to be found on the Great Eastern main line from Liverpool Street to Norwich operated by Grearter Anglia Class 745 units. The outer-suburban services to Ipswich, Harwich, Clacton, Colchester, Braintee, and Southend Victoria are in the hands of Greater Anglia Class 321s but are gradually being taken over by Class 720s.  The branch line from Marks Tey to Sudbury sees an hourly service operated by Greater Anglia using class 755 units. To the west, outer-surburban services to Cambridge, Hertford East and occasional services to Ely and Kings Lynn see Class 379s and Class 317s again operated by Greater Anglia both of which will be replaced by Class 720s.  The Stansted Express service sees increasing numbers of Class 745s taking over from Class 379s. 

London Suburban Services

345 010 about to work a TFL Rail service to Liverpool Street from Shenfield

Closer to London, Class 345s ply their trade on the TFL Rail route from Shenfield to Liverpool Street gradually replacing the 40 year old Class 315s. Eventually these will run as Elizabeth Line services through the Central London Crossrail Core to Paddington and the West.

London Overground Class 710107 at Romford with the 15:03 arrival from Upminster

London Overground operate class 317s and new class 710s on inner-suburban services from Liverpool Street to Chingford, Enfield and Cheshunt along with Romford to Upminster and Gospel Oak to Barking services. London Undergound operate District Line services to Upminster, Hammersmith and City Line Services to Barking and Central Line services to Hainault, Woodford and Epping

London, Tilbury and Southend Line

357317/039 at Platform 1 Shoeburyness with the 9B41 19:08 to Liverpool St. on 22 April 2021

In the south of the  county C2C operates the London Tilbury and Southend line services between Fenchurch Street and Southend Central/Shoeburyness using Class 357 and Class 387 Electrostar units with some through services routing via  Ockendon and Tilbury. An inner-suburban service to Grays via Rainham is also operated by C2C.

Freight Operations

66594 heads a Wentlog to Felxistowe intermodal at Witham

A considerable number of freight services operate via the Great Eastern and London Tilbury and Southend lines. Whilst mainly inter-modals, there are also some bulk traffic services operated by Freightliner, DB Cargo and GB Railfreight. Whilst the majority of these flows are Class 66 operated, Class 70 diesels, Class 90 electrics are used from time to time by Freightliner on the Great Eastern line.

Further Information on Network Operations

Updates on unusual stock movements can be found on a number of blogs and groups. Two that cover operations in our area are:

Some photos of recent operations can be found here

Preserved Lines

Pitchford Hall waits at Ongar with a service to North Weald

There is also an active preserved railway scene within the branch area. The Epping Ongar Railway running between North Weald and Ongar, Mangapps running from its base in Burnham on Crouch, The East Anglian Railway Museum running from Chappel and Wakes Colne and the Colne Valley Railway operating from their base in Castle Heddingham.  In the near future we hope to bring you news of events at all four of these lines on a regular basis.

Last updated: 18th August