New bridge and new rails on track as Network Rail invests £9.1m to improve railway in Kent and South East London this August Bank Holiday: Catford's newest bridge ready to be put in place

Monday 24 Aug 2020

New bridge and new rails on track as Network Rail invests £9.1m to improve railway in Kent and South East London this August Bank Holiday

Region & Route:
Southern: Kent
| Southern

A 130-year-old bridge is about to be replaced by Network Rail as part of its programme of engineering works this August Bank Holiday, which will affect some journeys in Kent and South East London.

Along with the work to replace the bridge at Catford, South East London, engineers will also be replacing points, the moveable rails which allow trains to change tracks, at a very busy junction near Crayford. The work will take place between Saturday 29 August and Monday 31 August, and passengers are urged to check before they travel.

The junction at Crayford was originally installed as part of wartime resilience for the railway, and it is now one of the busiest on Southeastern’s Metro network, linking Sidcup with Dartford. Replacing the points there will help improve reliability for passengers across the area.

The bridge at Catford was constructed circa 1890 and strengthened in 1916. Freight trains are currently subject to a 15mph speed restriction over the bridge due to its condition, so it is essential we replace it, to avoid further speed restrictions and disruption to services in the future.

Network Rail’s route director for Kent, Fiona Taylor, said: “We know there is never a good time to close the railway, but the replacement of these life expired assets is vital to improve the reliability of journeys for our passengers.”

Southeastern Train Services Director, Scott Brightwell, said: “This is another important project under the South East Upgrade that helps to improve our service. It will give our passengers more reliable journeys by reducing the risk of delays. Thanks for bearing with us while this essential work is carried out.”

Additional work will be completed while the railway is closed between Nunhead and Shortlands, to avoid future disruption for passengers and deliver immediate benefits. This will include embankment work, track work and work at Beckenham Hill station.

Travel advice

  • Buses will replace trains between Sidcup and Dartford and Slade Green and Dartford, with services on some other lines diverted and/or retimed
  • Buses will replace trains between Lewisham and Hayes
  • TfL ticket acceptance will be in place as usual for reasonable alternative routes

For detailed travel advice visit

Over the next few years we’re investing a record £1.25bn to upgrade track, signalling, embankments, structures, stations and depots to give passengers in Kent and South East London better journeys, with fewer delays. 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 keep people moving for decades to come.

Notes to Editors

Differing reasons behind the construction of the Catford Loop line in the late 19th Century have been put forward. Some say it was for the benefit of developers who wanted to build properties along the line and others that it was an alternative line to the coast that didn’t have loading gauge restrictions. Both would appear to be legitimate and still justify its continued existence.  Other more far-fetched reasons include the Chairman of the London Chatham and Dover railway, who owned the line at the time, being concerned that Penge tunnel might collapse because the hill was moving – that was in 1888 and both tunnel and hill are still very much intact. Another novel reason was that Queen Victoria, the first monarch to travel by train, didn’t like tunnels and so the Loop allowed a journey between Bromley and Victoria that avoided the 2200-yard tunnel at Penge.

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 - Chris Denham
Media relations manager (Kent)
020 3357 7969
07515 626530

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.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: