Thousands of commuters have been celebrating the shock news this evening that the high-speed Crossrail rail link will be extended from Shenfield to Southminster. 

Under the extension plans that will come into operation by 2024, the line from Wickford to Southminster will be made double-track for the entire distance – it is estimated that the line will be able to handle up to 16 trains per hour. 

Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement tonight at the Dengie 2024 Development Summit, a one-off event for politicians and business leaders to discuss the future of the Central Essex Peninsular. 

Mrs May said: ‘Extending Crossrail to Southminster will require an extra £15bn of funding as a further 25 new superfast trains will be needed. These additional costs will be met directly by the savings that the United Kingdom will make from our EU withdrawal within the next few years.’

‘The people of South Woodham Ferrers, Burnham-On-Crouch and North Fambridge have been burdened with a 19th Century rail service for too long, and it’s time to revolutionise public transport provision to the Dengie.’

‘My new-look Department for Transport had the choice between redeveloping the Southminster branch and the Southend Victoria branch, and our final decision made perfect sense.’

‘The Southend Victoria branch already has rolling stock and infrastructure that are more than adequate for the next 30-40 years, but the long-suffering commuters on the Southminster branch have been waiting long enough.’

‘From 2024, passengers from Southminster, Burnham-on-Crouch, Althorne, North Fambridge, South Woodham Ferrers, Battlesbridge, Wickford and Billericay will have a high-speed direct link to The City, The West End and Heathrow Airport.’

‘We are currently initiating a feasibility study relating to existing rail traffic and the additional activity that extending Crossrail will generate.’

‘Although our ultimate goal is to keep direct services between Southend and Liverpool Street, all possible options are currently on the table for consideration.’