Thursday 26 Oct 2023
Major railway junction and signalling upgrades to alter Southeastern and London Overground services this Christmas
Network Rail is advising Southeastern and London Overground passengers of changes to services and to plan ahead if travelling over Christmas due to a major programme of track and signalling upgrades in south London.
For 10 days, from Saturday 23 December to Monday 1 January – as well as several weekends before and after – the line between Herne Hill, Brixton and London Victoria will be closed and Southeastern services will be diverted into either Blackfriars, Cannon Street or Charing Cross. No trains will run on Christmas Day or Boxing Day due to the annual Christmas shutdown.
Over the same period, buses will replace London Overground trains between Surrey Quays and Clapham Junction.
The weekend closures will take place on 16 and 17 December, and again on 6 and 7, and 13 and 14 January.
During this time, Network Rail’s team of engineers will be working tirelessly to rebuild a busy and critical rail junction between Clapham and Wandsworth that controls the movement of Southeastern and London Overground services in the area.
Over the 10-day period, engineers will replace 14 sets of switches and crossings – the moveable sections of track that guide trains from one track to another, like a junction – with new, more reliable equipment; lay more than 1,600 metres of new track and 1,000 metres of conductor rail, use 10,000 tonnes of ballast and install 2,600 new sleepers.
When lines are closed Network Rail will also use this time to progress work on the installation of a new signalling system on the lines from Herne Hill and Nunhead into London Victoria. The new system will replace the existing 1980s signalling and will come into use over Christmas next year. This work follows recent upgrades between East Croydon and London Victoria which has seen delays slashed in half and is part of Network Rail’s wider London Victoria South London resignalling programme in which engineers are completing a major package of upgrades to modernise outdated track and signalling on the south London lines into London Victoria.
Drainage repairs, track maintenance and inspections will also be carried out during this time to maximise the amount of work that can be completed while the railway is closed.
David Davidson, Network Rail Kent route director, said: “The work we are doing to the track is one of the biggest projects we’ve delivered over the past five years, a truly massive undertaking involving hundreds of operatives, one Kirov crane, 22 engineering trains and 413 wagons carrying thousands of tonnes of materials.
“We’ll make the most of the time when the railway is closed by doing as much work as possible, including progressing the next phase of our Victoria and south London signalling upgrades that will see a brand-new signalling system on the lines from Herne Hill and Nunhead to London Victoria come into use next Christmas.
“We know there is never a good time to close the railway, but lines are significantly quieter over the Christmas period and by doing the work over consecutive days we can also minimise disruption to passengers by getting it done in one go, rather than working over a long series of weekends.”
Rory O’Neill, TfL’s General Manager for London Overground, said: “This Network Rail maintenance work is essential to ensure London Overground customers continue to receive a reliable service. Undertaking the work over the Christmas period, when services are traditionally quieter, helps minimise the impact on customers who use our services. I advise anyone planning to travel to check their journey beforehand and to allow extra time.”
On Christmas Day and Boxing Day when no Southeastern trains will run Network Rail’s maintenance teams will be working around the clock right across the rail network in Kent and South East London to keep complete vital work to support the safe and reliable running of the railway.
Southeastern is urging its customers travelling into Victoria over the festive period to check before they travel, by using journey planners on the Southeastern app or website, as their normal train will be routed into either London Blackfriars, Cannon Street or Charing Cross, and their journey may take longer than usual.
London Overground services between Crystal Palace and New Cross Gate will continue to operate throughout this closure, including on Boxing Day. A service from Highbury to Crystal Place / West Croydon will be operating on New Year’s Eve overnight. No services will operate between New Cross/New Cross Gate to Highbury & Islington from Christmas Day until Friday 29 December inclusive.
For more information on National Rail services over Christmas go to https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/travel-information/christmas/
For more information on Transport for London services over Christmas go to https://tfl.gov.uk/christmas-travel
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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.