Monday 21 Nov 2016
Check before you travel to Rochester’s Dickensian Christmas as railway upgrade continues
- South East
One of the final stages of the massive improvement scheme in Rochester comes to a close this December 3 and 4.
Along with the brand new station, Network Rail has put a new signalling system in place through Medway, to improve the reliability and frequency of train services as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better railway for passengers.
A final set of changes to the system will be taking place over that weekend – during the Dickensian Christmas Festival in Rochester – and there will be changes to train services as a result, with no trains between Meopham and Rainham. Strood station will be open as usual.
Network Rail’s head of signalling in the South East, Huw Edwards, said: “The people of Medway have been very patient with all the work we have been doing through here this year, and we’re almost there now.
“Southeastern’s new timetable this winter will ramp up the use of our new facilities, including the new tracks we’ve put in at Rochester and the loop that opened there in October. The work we’re doing over December 3 and 4 will make that possible by boosting our system up to its full capability and I appreciate people bearing with us while we do it.”
Passengers travelling to Dickensian Christmas from London will be able to walk across to the festival from Strood, a walk of less than ten minutes, while those from the coast will be able to catch a bus from Rainham station.
Southeastern’s Director of Train Services Richard Dean said: “The work that Network Rail is doing is enormously important for the railway. It is crucial to the future of the infrastructure which is used by hundreds of thousands of passengers daily and growing.
“Rochester has seen a new station built, Strood is soon to get a new one, and hundreds of millions of pounds is being invested in improving signalling and track in the area.
“This does mean that passengers using Rochester station have had to put up with a great deal of engineering work and this will continue during Dickensian Christmas on December 3 and 4.
“Those travelling by train from London should head to Strood and then we would advise them to make the short walk over Rochester bridge to the high street to enjoy the festival. Those coming from coastal Kent will be able to catch a special fast bus we are putting on to Strood via the Medway Tunnel. We would urge all passengers to please check before they travel.”
A Medway Council spokesperson said: “Whilst it is unfortunate that railway works are taking place during the Dickensian Christmas Festival, we understand Network Rail and Southeastern are working to ensure those making the journey to Rochester are aware of the temporary changes to the service and arranging replacement buses where necessary, to make the journey as smooth as possible for passengers.
“Dickensian Christmas is one of the high points in Medway’s events calendar, attracting both local people and visitors from further afield. We hope those who enjoy the festival year after year will join us again, and we look forward to welcoming those who plan to come along for the first time. As always, there will be something on offer for all the family, making it a great way to get in the mood for Christmas. Visit www.medway.gov.uk/christmas for more details.”
The work taking place this weekend is the final technical updating and testing of the systems that look after trains’ safety in Medway. Modern signalling in the area – the traffic lights of the railway – runs from powerful computers in Gillingham and the railway has to be closed for the system to be worked on safely and test trains to be run.
Festival-goers coming from the London direction by train are advised to head to Strood which is a short ten minute walk from the festival site on Rochester High Street.
Festival-goers travelling from coastal Kent will be able to pick up an express bus from Rainham to Strood via the Medway Tunnel, which will avoid the festival traffic. This will allow them to make the short walk from Strood.
There will also be a fast replacement bus service from Strood to Rainham, via the Medway Tunnel, allowing this wishing to continue their journey towards coastal Kent to avoid the festival traffic.
A replacement bus service will also travel between Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham.
Football fans seeking to take the high speed the Medway Towns or beyond to Stratford International to watch West Ham v Arsenal are advised to drive to Ebbsfleet and park there, rather than park at Strood.
Trains to Rochester from Victoria will stop at Meopham where a replacement bus will go via Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham to Rainham.
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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.
Every day, there are more than 4.7 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.
We are building a better railway for a better Britain.