|Braintree branch line|
|Locale||East of England|
|Rolling stock||Class 720|
|Line length||6 miles 30 chains (10.3 km)|
|Number of tracks||1|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Electrification||25 kV AC OHLE|
Braintree branch line
|Mileage from Liverpool Street|
The Braintree branch line is a railway branch line in the East of England that diverges from the Great Eastern Main Line at Witham and runs north-west to Braintree. The route is 6 miles 30 chains (10.3 km) in length and there are five stations, including the two termini. The line is part of Network Rail Strategic Route 7, SRS 07.06, and is classified as a London and South-East commuter line.
The stations and all services are currently operated by Greater Anglia. As of 2019 the typical off-peak weekday service-frequency is one train per hour in each direction. The timetabled journey time between Witham and Braintree is 16 minutes.
Originally constructed from Maldon to Braintree via Witham, only the line from Braintree to Witham remains open. The line was proposed by the Maldon, Witham & Braintree Railway (MWBR) and given royal assent in June 1846. The MWBR was subsequently purchased by the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR), and the line opened in 1848.
The Bishop's Stortford–Braintree branch closed to passenger traffic in 1952 and then to freight in 1971. The section from Maldon East and Heybridge to Witham was closed to passengers following the Beeching cuts to the railways in 1964, although goods services on that section continued until 1966. Conversely, the Witham-Braintree section saw an upsurge in passengers after a railbus was tried in the early 1960s, which was then replaced by a diesel multiple unit.
The franchise for the line is currently held by Greater Anglia.
Services are formed of Class 720 units. The first entered service on 16 December 2020.
Most of the former railway alignment between just east of Bishops Stortford and Braintree has been preserved, and is managed by Essex County Council as the Flitch Way linear park. Two local groups volunteer to improve the site and campaign for improvements.
The following table summarises the line's five stations, their distance measured from London Liverpool Street, and estimated number of passenger entries/exits in 2018–19:
|Witham||Witham||District of Braintree||38+1⁄2||2,349,496|
|White Notley||White Notley||District of Braintree||41+3⁄4||12,046|
|Cressing||Cressing and Black Notley||District of Braintree||43||39,010|
|Braintree Freeport||Braintree||District of Braintree||44+1⁄4||91,574|
|Braintree||Braintree||District of Braintree||45||727,982|