Consultation announced on ‘transformational’ plan to remove Britain’s worst railway bottleneck and provide a step-change in reliability: Croydon bottleneck / Selhurst triangle 3

Tuesday 16 Oct 2018

Consultation announced on ‘transformational’ plan to remove Britain’s worst railway bottleneck and provide a step-change in reliability

Region & Route:
South East

People across the south east of England will be able to have their say on proposals for a major railway upgrade to improve punctuality, speed up journey times and enable more trains to run on one of the country’s busiest main lines.

Network Rail has today announced that a public consultation will take place throughout November and December on proposals to remove the notorious ‘Croydon bottleneck’ which regularly causes delays and disruption to up to 300,000 passengers who travel on the Brighton Main Line and its branches each day.

The Croydon area is by far the busiest and most congested part of Britain’s rail network, with 30% more passengers and trains passing through it each day than London Euston and King’s Cross stations combined. Train punctuality on the Brighton Main Line is the lowest of any major route as the bottleneck magnifies the impact of even the most minor incident or delay.

If approved, the scheme would see a see additional tracks constructed in the Croydon area, extra platforms at an expanded and modernised East Croydon station and a series of new railway flyovers to replace the current ‘spaghetti junction’ near the station where lines from the south coast, Sussex and Surrey meet those to and from London Victoria, London Bridge and beyond.

The upgrade proposals are a key part of Network Rail’s long-term strategy to ensure that the rail network can continue to support and drive UK economic growth, providing reliable, fast and frequent services for the increasing numbers of people predicted to travel by rail.

John Halsall, Network Rail route managing director for the South East, said: “Removing the Croydon bottleneck is the only practical way to provide the step-change in reliability and capacity that passengers and businesses in Sussex so desperately want to see.

“For too long, train performance on the Brighton Main Line has been below the level that commuters and other passengers expect and deserve. While a number of factors have contributed to these issues in recent years, the basic layout of our railway through the Croydon area and the bottleneck it creates means reliability won’t ever improve to acceptable levels without significant changes.

“We want as many people as possible to take part in this consultation, either online or at one of our events, so we can make sure our proposal delivers a genuine transformation in rail services for passengers, businesses and communities in one of the most economically important parts of the country.”

Councillor Tony Newman, leader of Croydon Council, said: “Croydon Council has long been campaigning for more reliable rail services connecting Croydon with central London, the south coast and Gatwick Airport. We welcome the plans to invest in East Croydon station and the proposals are ‘must have’ to help us in our ambition to be London’s biggest growth borough.

“We’re well aware of the impact delays and cancellations can have on people living and working in our borough, as well as those visiting. We look forward to seeing the proposals and would encourage residents and businesses to join us in getting involved in the consultation.”

Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive at Coast to Capital Local Economic Partnership, said: “Promoting better transport and mobility is identified as a priority for investment in our Strategic Economic Plan ‘Gatwick 360’. Our ongoing area-wide Brighton mainline campaign aims to bring investment and long-term increases in railway capacity on the line which links our whole area and facilitates wider economic growth. The Croydon area remodelling scheme is critical to the success of this and we support the proposals. We continue to urge local businesses to join our Brighton Mainline Alliance and respond to the consultation.”

Angie Doll, Passenger Services Director for Southern and Gatwick Express, said: “Punctuality on Southern was, recently, the best it had been for five years and services on Thameslink are back on track too. However, a major investment of this scale is vital to improve services further for passengers and to future-proof this most-congested route.”

A six-week public consultation period will take place from 5 November to 17 December 2018 to give passengers, businesses and members of the public the opportunity to have their say on the proposals. They can do so online at or by completing a questionnaire which will be handed out at stations along the Brighton Main Line including Brighton, Gatwick Airport, East Croydon, London Bridge and London Victoria.

Network Rail will also be hosting a series of consultation events at locations across the Croydon area from 6-22 November to enable the local community to view the proposals and talk to the project team.

The proposals for Croydon form a key part of Network Rail’s long-term strategy to improve performance on the Brighton Main Line and its branches. As part of a £300m government-funded programme to tackle delay hotspots and boost rail reliability in the South East, Network Rail is already carrying out a major project to renew and upgrade tracks and signalling on the southern end of the Brighton Main Line. Work is taking place at weekends as well as during a nine-day blockade in February 2019. Other ongoing improvements to the line include power supply upgrades across Sussex to allow longer and more frequent trains to run in the future.

Notes to Editors

Our proposals for Croydon

To remove the bottleneck we will provide:

  • A bigger, better East Croydon station: We would build two new platforms, a bigger concourse with improved facilities for passengers, better connections with the town centre and other transport links and help the ongoing regeneration of central Croydon. We could potentially also construct new offices and homes above and around the station.
  • ‘Selhurst triangle’ flyovers: We would reconfigure the tracks north of East Croydon station, removing junctions and building flyovers.
  • Lower Addiscombe Road/Windmill Bridge reconstruction: To provide more track at East Croydon station and flyovers through the ‘Selhurst triangle’ we would need to expand the railway from five to seven tracks north of East Croydon station. This would require the current bridge over the railway to be rebuilt to provide space for the additional tracks.
  • Improvements to Norwood Junction station: We would reconfigure the tracks to enable more trains to run, increase station capacity and provide step-free access to all platforms.

What are the benefits of the upgrade?

  • More reliable journeys:By building a series of flyovers north of East Croydon and new tracks and platforms at the station we'd remove the current bottleneck which causes daily delays and disruption and improve the punctuality of services.
  • Faster journeys:More tracks and fewer junctions means we would be able to speed up some services through the area
  • A boost to the regional and national economy:As the main route connecting the capital with Gatwick Airport and the south coast, improving the Brighton Main Line will provide a significant boost to the regional and national economy.
  • A bigger, better East Croydon station: We would provide greatly increased concourse space, new entrances and transform passenger facilities and there is the possibility of development above and adjacent to the station.
  • Step-free access at Norwood Junction station: Lifts to all platforms will make the station fully accessible to all passengers for the first time

About the ‘Croydon Bottleneck’:

Poor performance

  • The Croydon bottleneck magnifies the impact of even the most minor incident or delay along the line, making it much harder to get trains back on time when things go wrong.
  • It’s why passengers on the Brighton Main Line experience 60% more knock-on delay when an incident occurs compared to the South West Main Line, which has similar passenger numbers and service frequencies.

The capacity problem

  • The passenger numbers on the Brighton Main Line have more than doubled since the year 2000 with trains on this part of the network regularly featuring in lists of the nation’s most crowded services.
  • The Croydon bottleneck means that there is no capacity to run more trains to cope with forecast growth in demand on the line, leading to even more overcrowding in the years ahead unless action is taken.

Annual passenger journeys through East Croydon:


Passenger numbers





Early 2030s


Trains per day – a comparison:


Total weekday trains



Manchester Piccadilly




London Paddington


London Euston


London Kings Cross


Contact information

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Network Rail press office - Russell Spink
Senior communications manager
Network Rail
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