22 July 2019

Plans to replace the ageing train system on the world’s longest pleasure pier are continuing to progress, as the tender process is in full swing.

This summer has seen the launch of a tender to replace Southend’s pier railway trains after setting aside £3.25m in its 2019-20 budget. The tender is now in its last few weeks and the successful bid will be appointed in September.

The current diesel trains have been transporting thousands of visitors into the estuary since 1986, and at the time had a projected 20-year lifespan. Outstanding servicing has kept them going way beyond their expected life, but now it is time to replace them.

In February, the council approved an ambitious budget in which £18m was earmarked for pier improvements. Longer term plans include a new landmark visitor attraction on the site of the former bowling alley.

Recently, a new visitor entrance was officially opened and many damaged deck boards, sun shelters, hand rails and benches have been replaced.

Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, said: “The trains are an important part of our town’s heritage and visitor offer, as well as making a trip to the end of the longest pier in the world accessible to all. This summer is a great time to experience the trains and visit the pier head.

“The current train system is now literally reaching the end of the line as replacement parts are obsolete and there are of course many improvements in technology.

“Replacing the trains represents just one part of a multi-million pound investment earmarked for bringing the jewel in the town’s crown back to glory and making it a fun, relevant and memorable experience for future generations of visitors.

“Very few specialist companies will be able to deliver these trains and there is a unique nature of the work along with kudos associated in working on such a major landmark.”

Bumper summer for Southend Pier

Following a series of record-breaking visitor numbers for Southend and good weather forecast throughout the school summer holidays, pier staff are preparing for a bumper summer.

Visitors can indulge in fresh fish and chips, following the long-awaited return of the popular dish earlier in the year. The ever-popular beach huts on the pier will be open throughout the summer, selling fish and chips, alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments, as well as various art exhibitions, music and the nine-hole mini-golf course.

On Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 August, the pier will welcome back various puppeteers for the 31st annual Southend Pier Puppet Festival, where visitors can enjoy traditional seaside puppet comedy.