Tuesday 5 Jan 2021
Better journeys for Kent passengers after New Year improvements to London's 'main arteries' completed
Teams of engineers have worked 24/7 over Christmas and the New Year to renew and upgrade railways across south-east London and Kent, providing better journeys for passengers in 2021.
Projects took place at Ashford, Barming and Bearsted, Denmark Hill, Greenwich, Hither Green, Kemsing, Lewisham, New Cross Gate, Nunhead, Orpington and Petts Wood.
The largest of these was the replacement of the track, points and the track bed in the busy Lewisham area, which carries many main line and local services from south-east London and Kent into London. This work was completed over eight days during the festive period.
Fiona Taylor, Network Rail's route director for Kent, said: “We carried out extensive work across south east London and Kent over Christmas and the New Year to minimise our impact on passengers and to ensure our network is in an even better place to handle passengers in 2021.
“We know there is never a good time to carry out major work like this, so I would like to thank passengers and our lineside neighbours for their patience. In particular I know the work in Lewisham was right next to many people’s homes and without their patience and understanding we wouldn’t have been able to make these vital improvements. Thank you very much.”
Scott Brightwell, Southeastern train services director, said: "We want to say thanks to our passengers for bearing with us while Network Rail carried out vital track improvements at two of our busiest junctions near Lewisham, along with other projects across South East London and Kent. This essential work will help to improve reliability and reduce the risk of delays.”
The lines through Lewisham are some of the most heavily-congested in the country and are used by services from both the London suburbs and the Kent coast, and were in need of improvement.
The upgrade saw nearly two miles of track laid on 7,500 tonnes of ballast and 1,460 sleepers. Overall, four sets of points and two diamond crossings were replaced at St Johns and Parks Bridge which will now offer more reliable and smoother journeys for passengers. Points – or switches and crossings – allow trains to cross from one track to another and can be a source of disruption when they go wrong. Replacing older kit will make a huge difference to the reliability of trains in the area.
Meanwhile, a junction at Nunhead was upgraded, track maintenance took place at Greenwich, Petts Wood, Kemsing and Ashford. Earthworks were carried out at Barming and Bearsted, old signalling was removed at New Cross Gate and Hither Green and new station canopies were installed at Orpington and Denmark Hill so passengers can stay dry while waiting for trains.
The Thameslink Resilience programme was also working from Blackfriars to New Cross and Lewisham, improving the cables which carry signalling and electrical power as well as working on gantries, and upgrading points heating as the weather gets colder.
Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director at Thameslink, said: "Collaborating as an industry, this vital work will help give our Thameslink passengers the long-term reliability they expect and deserve."
Notes to Editors
A short film about the works at Lewisham can be found here
Photo shows a gantry removal carried out at Hither Green, works being carried out at Lewisham, and near London Bridge.
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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.