Kent and south east London passengers reminded to check before travelling over the festive period as Network Rail takes to the tracks for major railway upgrades: Final set of S&C

Wednesday 12 Dec 2018

Kent and south east London passengers reminded to check before travelling over the festive period as Network Rail takes to the tracks for major railway upgrades

Region & Route:
South East

Passengers are advised to check before travelling by train over the Christmas and New Year period as Network Rail carries out a major programme of improvements to the south east’s rail network.

From Saturday, 22 December until the early hours of Wednesday, 2 January, more than 1,600 engineers will work round-the-clock on a host of projects to provide a better, more reliable railway for the hundreds of thousands of people who use the region’s railway each day. The work includes renewing outdated track and signalling, upgrading signalling systems, refurbishing and replacing footbridges and installing new drainage to prevent flooding during severe weather.

In south east London, work to upgrade the signalling systems in the Hither Green and Charlton areas continues over the festive period. Passengers will feel the benefit starting in Easter 2019, when control of the first section of railway is handed over to our modern rail operating centre at Three Bridges.

In Kent, engineers will be refurbishing a busy junction at Otford, where the lines to Sevenoaks and Maidstone meet, on Sunday 23 December. This is one of the busiest junctions in the area and our work will improve reliability for passengers across Kent. On the same day, engineers will remove the outdated footbridge over the railway at Brickfields near Swanley, with a new bridge deck to be installed in March 2019.

Another busy junction is being renewed at Canterbury West over Christmas Day and Boxing Day, with five pre-fabricated track panels carefully lifted into place by a road crane from the adjacent car park. The panels were constructed by a specialist contractor in Yorkshire and are being delivered to site next week ready for installation.

And on New Year’s Day, engineers will be working through the length of Wheeler Street tunnel in Maidstone on a major project to replace the ballast – the stones which support the tracks and sleepers – to provide a better, more reliable service for passengers.

The tunnel has major issues with drainage, with silt and heavy clay forming in the track bed, causing problems with the track, power system and signalling. Teams will dismantle and remove the rail, conductor rail and sleepers, then use an excavator to remove spoilt ballast. New ballast will then be installed and the track, conductor rail and sleepers reinstalled. All in one day.

John Halsall, Network Rail’s South East route managing director, said: “This Christmas we’re continuing with major parts of our Railway Upgrade Plan in the south east, aimed at providing a better, more reliable railway to the growing number of people who travel by rail.

“These projects are critical pieces of the jigsaw to help us provide the railway passengers deserve, reducing delays and boosting reliability.

“Of course, we know it’s never a good time to close the railway but doing nothing is not an option either. Doing the work over the Christmas holidays, when the railway is significantly quieter than usual, means we can minimise overall disruption to passengers.”

Ellie Burrows, Southeastern’s train services director, said: “As part of our engineering and upgrade works over the festive period there will be a number of alterations to our services. I would like to thank our passengers for their understanding and patience during this time and encourage people to plan ahead and check before they travel by following us on Twitter @SE_railway, checking our On Track app or the Southeastern website for the latest information."

A breakdown of how journeys will be affected by improvement work across Britain over the Christmas and New Year period can be found by visiting

For more information, please visit or

Notes to Editors

London-wide summary

Main service impacts:

As usual, no trains will run on Christmas Day and a limited service will run on Boxing Day

London Liverpool Street: Upgrading the overhead wiring system at Forest Gate junction as part of the £250m upgrade of the Great Eastern Main Line. This will see train services suspended between London Liverpool Street and Romford from Sunday 23 December to Tuesday 1 January.

London Paddington: Installing new track at Heathrow Airport junction to improve reliability. This means that there will no trains to/from London Paddington station from Sunday 23 to Wednesday 26 December and on Sunday 30 December.

St Pancras International: Replacing the track between London St Pancras and Kentish Town as part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade. This means there will be reduced services to/from London St Pancras from Monday 24 December to Tuesday 1 January.

London Waterloo: Replacing old switches and crossings – the moveable sections of track that guide trains from one track to another – with new kit at London Waterloo. This means that from Sunday 23 to Friday 28 December there will be changes to services.

London Victoria: Installing new track at Battersea Pier junction, which will replace infrastructure built in the mid-1970s and improve reliability for the 240,000 passengers who pass through every day. This means there are no Southern or Gatwick Express services to/from London Victoria station from Sunday 23 December to Tuesday 1 January.

Clapham Junction: With work taking place on the routes into London Waterloo and London Victoria, there will be changes to services to/from Clapham Junction from Sunday 23 December to Wednesday 2 January.

Contact information

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

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - Russell Spink
Senior communications manager
Network Rail
020 3357 7969
07767 672748

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 4.8 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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