Sparks fly as Bermondsey demolition brings Thameslink improvements one step closer: Thameslink (3 of 7)

Friday 12 Jun 2015

Sparks fly as Bermondsey demolition brings Thameslink improvements one step closer

Region & Route:
South East

Demolition has begun at the site of one of the £6.5bn Thameslink Programme’s most crucial improvements.

The massive Bermondsey Dive Under is being created to separate flows of trains approaching London Bridge from South East London, Croydon and Kent, improving reliability and reducing delays.

In order to create the dive under – the opposite of a motorway flyover – several stretches of old viaduct and bridges are being demolished.

In the shadow of Millwall’s New Den, the site of the dive under was once a tangle of railways and roads. Project manager Greg Thornett said: “Our Victorian ancestors did a fantastic job and we are still using much of their work to carry more than 200,000 passengers every day – including a stretch of the oldest railway in the whole of London. However, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to untangle the current complex track layout, which is a result of historic railway operators dating back over 150 years running services adjacent to one another into London on their own infrastructure.

“Our contractors are removing the steel bridges first before using a mixture of techniques to deconstruct the brick viaducts. Passengers will soon see big changes from the windows of their trains.”

The Government-sponsored £6.5bn Thameslink Programme is rebuilding much of the railway from New Cross Gate through London Bridge and on to Blackfriars and St Pancras. The Bermondsey Dive Under will see two Victorian viaducts partially-demolished and rebuilt to allow Charing Cross trains from South East London and Kent to dive down to almost street level, under a new route carrying Thameslink services from Croydon, and back up again.

In addition the same team, from Network Rail and contractor Skanska, are strengthening 20 bridges between New Cross and Waterloo East to carry the proposed Thameslink track alignments which are necessary to provide 24 train paths per hour though London’s central core from Blackfriars to St.Pancras.

Greg Thornett added: “Although the old viaducts will be replaced by modern structures, they are designed to remain in keeping with the older architecture. It’s exciting to see this transformation and it will be a real sense of achievement to see trains running on it.”


The Bermondsey Dive Under is situated on a triangle of land near the New Den where the former Bricklayers Arms branch left the main line. 

Principal contractor at the Bermondsey Dive Under is Skanska, with Armac as the specialist demolition sub-contractor.

Some of the 20 bridges strengthened are of an old design where the rails are carried on timber baulks instead of the more common ballast track support. The timber baulks need replacing every 5-10 years, so the newer structures will be stronger and require less maintenance.

About the Thameslink Programme

The government-sponsored £6.5bn Thameslink Programme will transform north-south travel through London. When complete in 2018 it will give passengers:
• New, 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
• Robust new track and signalling systems offer more reliable journeys
• A completely rebuilt London Bridge station with more space and great facilities

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 (South East route)
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.

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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