Henry Smith MP joined representatives from Network Rail and Southern trains to mark the start of work on a state-of-the-art rail operating centre at Three Bridges which will see it become the nerve centre of railway operations in Sussex.
The new operating centre is one of three major projects either underway or planned for Three Bridges, which combined are expected to bring over 900 jobs to the area. The other schemes are the construction of a railway maintenance depot for the new Thameslink trains, which is due to begin in early 2012, and a series of improvements to the station and subway which are currently being carried out by Network Rail and Southern to provide better journeys and facilities for thousands of passengers.
The rail operating centre at Three Bridges will become one of 14 planned across Britain over the coming years designed to replace more than 800 signal boxes and other operational locations currently used to control trains across the network. The new centres will have more advanced signalling tools and technology that will help reduce delays, improve performance, increase capacity, provide better information to passengers and offer better value for money for the British people. It is anticipated that up to 600 roles could move to Three Bridges over the next 10 – 15 years.
Henry Smith MP said: “Three Bridges is a significant transport interchange hub that serves local commuters and business alike. I'm delighted at Network Rail's commitment to invest in upgrading this important Crawley gateway."
Mark Ruddy, Network Rail’s route managing director for Sussex, said: “The new operating centre and train depot will make Three Bridges one of the most important places on the railway in the south east. As well as helping creating a better railway, the 900 plus jobs potentially being created in the area will also give a vital boost for local shops and amenities.
“The plans are also great news for passengers in Three Bridges who will get a better station and other improvements along the Brighton main line. Thameslink will deliver longer, more modern trains, more seats and a wider choice of journey options and the operations centre will help us run a more punctual and reliable service.
“We thank passengers and the community in advance for their patience whilst we deliver this work.”
Major construction of the rail operating centre, which is being carried on behalf of Network Rail by C Spencer Ltd, is expected to be completed by early 2013.
Brett Jarman, project director, for Spencer added: “Spencer is delighted to be part of the delivery team, constructing the first of the next generation in operating centres at Three Bridges. We hope to build upon the successes of similar schemes we delivered in Derby, Glasgow and Thames Valley - upholding Network Rail’s safety culture and refining the programme successes which have proved to be the winning formula.”
Notes to editors
Work on the new rail operating centre at Three Bridges station was officially started by (from left): Chris Burchell, managing director of Southern trains; Mark Ruddy, Network Rail's route managing director for Sussex; Henry Smith MP for Crawley; Brett Jarman, Spencer's project director, and Peter Lawrence, Spencer's rail director (south).
The station upgrade work includes:
- Creating a new waiting area and passenger toilets on platforms 3 and 4
- Relocating the ticket gates and a refurbishing the space around them to make it easier for passengers to move around the station, particularly at the busiest times of the day
- Renewing the stairs leading to platform 5. They will be made wider and have a less severe gradient making them easier to use
- Installing new cladding and flooring within the subway
- Renewing the steps from the car park to the station
- Upgrading the drainage to reduce the chances of standing water during wet weather
- Resurfacing the platforms
- Carrying out preparatory works in advance of potential car park enhancements
This phase of work at the station is due to be completed by summer 2012.
In November 2011, additional funding was also secured to make additional improvements to the station, including:
· Creation of a boulevard style walkway to replace the existing structure
· New, modern retail facilities
· New double-deck cycle parking facilities
An 11,200m2 depot will be built to maintain the new fleet of modern and longer trains which are coming into operation on the Thameslink route from 2015. In addition to the main depot building – which will be able to take up to five 12-car trains at a time for repairs and upgrades - the site will include a warehouse and office space, train cleaning equipment, sidings for storing trains overnight, an electricity substation and a staff footbridge. New car and cycling facilities will also be built for staff.
The Thameslink Programme will deliver a major increase in capacity on the Brighton to Bedford route along with new journey options to and through the capital, a new station spanning the River Thames at Blackfriars, a direct interchange with Crossrail at Farringdon and a new station at London Bridge eradicating one of the worst bottlenecks on the national rail network.
It is expected that up to 370 jobs will be created.
Spencer has delivered true multidisciplinary excellence in engineering and construction for more than two decades. Thanks to experience in engineering and project managing national and international works, they have become preferred providers in engineering solutions in the fields of transport, energy, business solutions and rail infrastructure.
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain’s railway – the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.6bn journeys by rail every year - double the number of 1996 - and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We’re investing £38bn in the railway by 2019 to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.