Wednesday 4 Jan 2017
PICTURES and VIDEO: New track comes into use after another busy Christmas for Network Rail in the south east
- South East
Passengers have been thanked for their patience after a busy programme of improvement work took place across the south east over the last two weeks.
Network Rail spent almost £11m over the holiday period as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan, with more than 2,600 staff working hard round-the-clock out on the tracks in the south east and 24,000 across the country.
This Christmas, the Thameslink Programme brought the first tracks through the Bermondsey Dive Under into use. Similar to a motorway underpass, the Bermondsey Dive Under is a brand new railway junction that will untangle the tracks on the eastern approach to London Bridge station.
Currently, as trains from Sussex and Kent approach London Bridge, the railway lines intersect at a series of junctions, causing congestion and creating delays. The new line, which will be used by Southern trains, offers a glimpse of the future where there will be six new lines in total running over and through the dive-under, serving Southern, Southeastern and Thameslink passengers.
From 2018, the new junction will allow Southeastern and Southern trains to ‘dive under’ the newly built lines that will be used by Thameslink services, improving the travel experience for millions of passengers travelling to and through the landmark new station.
Elsewhere, Network Rail’s teams of engineers worked across the south east for an incredible 28,000 hours, sacrificing Christmas with their families to improve the railway that 510 million passenger journeys rely on each year. The projects included laying new drains deep underground in Sevenoaks Tunnel, replacing a worn-out junction at New Cross, repairing a bridge at Lewisham, putting in a new bridge span at Purley, laying new rail at St John’s in south east London, and refurbishing several sets of points, which allow trains to cross from one track to another, between Swanley and Bickley.
Network Rail South East route managing director, John Halsall, said: “We appreciate the patience shown by passengers while we continued our Railway Upgrade Plan over Christmas and the New Year.
“The hard work by our teams across the south east will make a real difference to our passengers, especially those who will use the Bermondsey Dive Under which will allow more trains to run while reducing delays on this busy stretch of railway.
“It is a privilege to do the job that we do and we are absolutely focussed on continuing to work hard to improve our railway.”
Southeastern Managing Director, David Statham, said: “I would like to thank our passengers for their patience over the festive period when Network Rail carried out vital improvement work.
“There is no ideal time to carry out major work and we appreciate this can disrupt people’s journeys, but this can only realistically be done during holiday periods, when fewer people travel.
“Massive investment is being made in our railways so we can improve journeys and secure increased rail capacity for the future. We encourage our passengers to always check before they travel at weekends as improvement work continues to take place.”
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) Chief Operating Officer, Nick Brown, said: “Investment in the railway is vital to improving services for our passengers and we’re pleased to see this latest element of the Thameslink Programme completed. In 2018, it will give Thameslink services a clear run into London Bridge, reducing delays and enabling the 24 train-per-hour high intensity service between Blackfriars and St Pancras.”
About Thameslink Programme
The Thameslink Programme is transforming north-south travel through London. When complete in 2018 it will give passengers:
- New longer and more spacious trains running every 2 to 3 minutes through central London in the peak
- Improved connections and better options to more destinations on an expanded Thameslink network including Cambridge and Peterborough
- More robust tracks and state-of-the art signalling and more reliable trains to make journeys more reliable
- Completely rebuilt stations at Blackfriars and London Bridge
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 4.7 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.
We are building a better railway for a better Britain.