Bexleyheath line to close for 9-days in February 2020 for major engineering work: Barnehurst station

Tuesday 17 Sep 2019

Bexleyheath line to close for 9-days in February 2020 for major engineering work

Region & Route:
  • 9-day closure on the Bexleyheath line from Saturday 15 – Sunday 23 February 2020, for a major work to protect passengers from landslips
  • Engineers will remove thousands of tonnes of soil to reduce the incline of the cutting and build retaining walls with steel beams hammered six metres into the ground
  • The work will protect this section of the railway line from landslips for 120 years
  • Working with Southeastern, we will keep passengers moving by increasing services on other lines

Network Rail will close the railway between Kidbrooke and Barnehurst during the February half term next year to carry out major work that will protect passengers from disruption caused by landslips.

After four landslips in the past decade – the most recent in February this year, blocking the line for seven days - we’re investing £6.6 million to provide a safe solution on this section of the railway that will last 120 years.

The work involves removing 2,500 tonnes of mud and trees so engineers can reduce the steepness of the cutting slopes, which are prone to landslips during long periods of wet weather.

Engineers will also bring in another 8,000 tonnes of material, such as gravel and concrete, to build retaining walls along both sides of the cutting, stretching 650 metres.

The walls are made from steel beams, which are vibrated and driven into the ground six metres deep and then finished with huge concrete blocks and will stop any future landslips from reaching the tracks.

To make the most of the closure, Network Rail and Southeastern will also bring forward other infrastructure improvements in the area, as well as essential maintenance at the affected stations.

This will not only reduce the amount of engineering works in the future but give passengers the reliability benefits much sooner.

Dan Athol, programme director for Network Rail, said:

“The risk of another landslip on the line is very high and we need to take action as soon as possible.  

“We know it’s never a good time to close the railway, but a longer 9-day blockade during the half term when it’s typically quieter means we can minimise disruption to passengers. The alternative would be many weekend closures over a two-year period, which is not only slow and inefficient but prolongs the risk of landslips and unplanned disruption to passengers.

“We’re working closely with Southeastern to make people aware of the impact on their journeys and the alternative options available and will use the time the railway is closed to bring forward other important work.”

Ellie Burrows, Train Services Director for Southeastern said:

“Above all, our passengers on the Bexleyheath line through Barnehurst want a safe and reliable service, and this vital work being undertaken by Network Rail will protect this stretch of track for the future.

“It’s never ideal to have to close the railway, but working with Network Rail we have a clear plan for diverting trains on to different routes as well as putting in place replacement bus services to ensure that our passengers can get to where they need to.”

Keeping passengers moving during the closures

The Woolwich and Sidcup lines and the Charlton to Blackheath link will remain open. Capacity on alternative routes will be increased by running additional or longer trains. Rail replacement bus services will be available and tickets will also be accepted on all other reasonable routes. 

More detailed information on the exact times of additional services and bus replacements will be available nearer the proposed closures. 

A large-scale passenger awareness campaign, in conjunction with Southeastern and Thameslink will ensure people are fully aware of the closures, the impact on journeys, the alternative travel options available to them and the benefits the work will bring to south east London.

Notes to Editors

The following stations will be closed for 9 days

  • Kidbrooke
  • Eltham
  • Falconwood
  • Welling
  • Bexleyheath
  • Barnehurst

Kent Upgrade

Find out more at

Network Rail is spending around £1.25bn over the next five years to replace signalling, tracks, structures, embankments, stations and depots to give passengers in Kent and South East London better journeys, with fewer delays.

The investment will help address decades of underinvestment in the Kent network, replacing ageing and increasingly fault prone railway with new, more reliable equipment - supporting improving train performance and keeping people and trains on the move for generations to come.

  • Replace 429km of track, at a cost of over £201m
  • Spend £162m on new signalling equipment, reducing faults and delays for passengers
  • Spend £21.4m to improve safety at level crossings
  • Replace 560 switches and crossings, junctions where trains switch tracks, at a cost of £170m
  • Spend £170m on replacing or refurbishing our structures, including 100 underbridges, 12 overbridges, 23 footbridges and 1 tunnel
  • Strengthen 9 other structures, so they can carry more trains and more passengers at the same time
  • Renew 90km of fencing to prevent trespass at a cost of £2.1m
  • Clear overgrown vegetation across 51km of railway to prevent seasonal delays caused fallen leaves and trees
  • We’ll also be introducing traffic and incident management technology at our control centres This will help our signallers manage the service more efficiently and recover from disruptive incidents more quickly.

Major projects include:

Hither Green area signalling and track upgrade

We’re working on a major £90m investment in a new signalling system from Hither Green to New Eltham, Elmstead Woods and Bromley North, as well as upgrades to track and junctions in the area.

The majority of the work will take place from September 2019 to April 2020.  The new signalling system will be brought into use over Easter 2020, 10 April - 13 April.

Some services will be amended, diverted or cancelled but trains will still run. Passengers are advised to plan ahead and check before they travel.

Ashford International track and junction renewal

At Ashford international station for 5 days from Wednesday 25 December to Sunday 29 December 2019, as well as a number of weekends before and after main works, Network Rail will replace track and three sets of old switches and crossings – the moveable rails which allow trains to switch tracks - at Ashford International station.  The work will give passengers travelling through Ashford smoother, more reliable journeys.  

The railway drainage in the area will also be improved, helping to maintain track quality in the future.  

The work means there will be changes to Southeastern, High Speed and international services at Ashford.

Passengers should check before they travel and allow more time for their journeys if travelling through Kent this Christmas.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Leonard Bennett

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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