Thursday 30 Jul 2020
Farewell to the old and in with the new as London Bridge signalling centre closes and £81m signalling scheme hits halfway point in South London
- Region & Route:
- Southern: Kent
An £81m scheme by Network Rail to renew infrastructure in the Hither Green area of South London has reached halfway and is on track to hand back a much-improved railway for passengers, while also marking the end of London Bridge Area Signalling Centre as an operational location.
The project means the whole main line from Charing Cross and St Pancras International to Chislehurst is under the control of Three Bridges Rail Operating Centre near Gatwick in Sussex, signalled from modern WestCAD workstations.
Network Rail and its contractors have been on site at Hither Green since Saturday morning replacing the 1976-built signalling equipment, which was reaching the end of its life and increasingly difficult to maintain or operate reliably. Teams are installing 92 LED signal heads, and replacing almost 90 track circuits with 262 Frauscher axle counters, along with enhancing 86 sets of points and laying 24km of power cable and 19km of fibre telecoms cable.
In addition, the local power supply is being upgraded and made more resilient and turnback facilities are being put in place at Hither Green, Grove Park and Lee.
Blockade Director Jon Ruch said: “This is a massive project and much-needed as we know passengers in South London have been suffering increasing disruption in this area. The move to axle counters will improve reliability as we won’t have to maintain insulated block joints and impedance bonds, and we’re also building in greater operational flexibility with new turn-backs at Lee, Hither Green and Grove Park. People often forget the impact of cable faults on reliability too, and relaying all the power supply and telecoms will have a massive positive impact.
“On top of all that, for many of us who worked on the Thameslink Programme, this is really the final part of the jigsaw we started many years ago and puts control of the busiest and most difficult to manage part of our network in a single location with modern technology.”
In addition to the new signalling equipment, a great deal of work is being undertaken at stations, from new drainage and platform edging at Chislehurst, to ongoing work at Hither Green station itself, which is getting new platforms and canopies.
London Bridge ASC was built in 1974 with an NX panel and first started signalling trains in 1975, absorbing a variety of smaller boxes, from the two-man level-frame Borough Market Junction, to the 1962-era panel at Hither Green. At its largest it was one of the busiest boxes on the whole railway, controlling trains from Charing Cross on the routes out to Kent through Greenwich, Lewisham, Grove Park, and the four tracks down to Norwood Junction.
Some of its equipment is being retained for use as spares elsewhere on the network and the building itself is being assessed to see what use it can be put to.
Three Bridges control centre now fringes with Ashford IECC and Victoria ASC at Chislehurst.
The railway is closed to trains on the main line through Hither Green, along with the Bromley North and Sidcup branches. Services resume on Monday, 3 August.
Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41
Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries
Network Rail press office - Chris Denham
Media relations manager (Kent)
020 3357 7969
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.