Kent commuters warned to expect longer journey times and busier trains as work to upgrade signalling equipment through South East London takes place in late July: Red for danger

Tuesday 14 Jul 2020

Kent commuters warned to expect longer journey times and busier trains as work to upgrade signalling equipment through South East London takes place in late July

Region & Route:
| Southern: Kent

Commuters from parts of Kent are being warned to expect their journeys to and from London could take longer and peak time services will be busier as trains are diverted round week-long engineering work in South East London.

The main line from Tonbridge and Sevenoaks to Charing Cross and Cannon Street will be closed through Hither Green for nine days from Saturday 25 July to Sunday 2 August 2020, with trains from the lines between Ashford, Tonbridge, Hastings and Tunbridge Wells taking different routes into London and in some cases being diverted to London Victoria.

Detailed station by station travel advice is now available on our dedicated webpage.

The work to replace 1970s signalling equipment is vital to improving punctuality of services through the Hither Green area, but it cannot be completed with trains running.

Fiona Taylor, route director, Kent said: “We know this is a tough ask of passengers who are already managing changes to their journeys and we haven’t taken the decision to close the lines lightly.

 “The current signalling system, which controls the movement of trains on the lines through Hither Green, has been in place since the 1970s. It's old, unreliable, and becoming more difficult to source spare parts and maintain.

 “If we don't upgrade now, it could lead to major delays and crowding for Southeastern passengers in future. That's a risk we weren’t prepared to take.

 “We are extremely grateful to people for their patience in these difficult times. When this vital upgrade is complete, it will provide a more reliable and resilient railway for passengers for decades to come.”

Southeastern train services director, Scott Brightwell said: "We want to warn our customers that trains will be very busy at peak times and journeys could take longer. Where buses replace trains, we expect journey times to be extended with queuing systems at busier times of day. Please avoid travelling if possible.“

Summary of travel advice for Kent passengers:

  • Buses will replace trains between Lewisham and both Sidcup and Orpington.
  • Ashford, Tonbridge, Hastings and Tunbridge Wells services will run via alternative routes and into different London terminals.
  • Tickets will be accepted on alternative routes.
  • All Southeastern car parks will be available to season ticket holders who usually travel from a closed station (subject to capacity).
  • Plan your journey at

What’s being delivered over the 9-days?

  • A new, £81m system and other improvements.
  • Track circuits, which detect trains, have been replaced with 254 more reliable axle counters.
  • 58 new signals and 9 new, easier maintained signal gantries built.
  • Power supply upgraded and made more resilient.
  • Signalling improvements to provide turnback opportunities at Hither Green, Grove Park and Lee, allowing trains to turnback when there are delays or during engineering works.
  • Signal improvements at Grove Park to allow 12-car trains to stop at platform 3.
  • Signalling control of the area will be transferred to the state-of-the-art Three Bridges route control centre, helping to recover the service more quickly when there is an incident.
  • Deep cleaning, maintenance of closed stations, platform and canopy repairs and other improvements will take place on the affected lines to give passengers additional benefits.

Notes to Editors

South East Upgrade -

A record £1.25bn investment to upgrade track, signalling, embankments, stations and depots to give passengers in Kent and South East London better journeys, with fewer delays.

A quarter of a billion pounds to improve Lewisham station and the track and signalling through the area, as well as another billion-pound investment to upgrade the network in Kent and South East London.

The funding will tackle decades of under investment in the Kent network, replacing ageing equipment with new and more reliable technology to support improving train performance and keeping people moving for decades to come.

Contact information

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

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Leonard Bennett

About Network Rail

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