It was a busy Christmas across the rail network in Kent and South East London as Network Rail worked to give passengers more reliable journeys as part of its record £1.25bn South East Upgrade.

The biggest single project took place at Ashford International, where drainage, six sets of points, the equipment which allow trains to cross from one track to another, and all the track off the end of platforms 3-6 were replaced. The work will give Southeastern High Speed and Eurostar passengers a much more resilient and reliable railway.

In South East London work continued on a major £81m project to install a new signalling system on the lines through Hither Green and at Barnehurst on the Bexleyheath line, work continued ahead of 9-day closure of the railway from Saturday 15 February to Sunday 23 February to prevent landslips.

Network Rail’s route director for Kent, Fiona Taylor, said: “Christmas and New Year is always our busiest time of year for engineering work because the trains themselves are less busy. I know passengers travelling through Ashford will have had longer journeys whilst we rebuilt the railway there and I’m really grateful for their patience.  All this work is vital to improving the reliability and resilience of our network, keeping passengers moving through the 2020s.”

A Southeastern person said: “Ellie Burrows, Train Services Director for Southeastern, said: “Above all, our passengers expect a reliable and smooth journey and the hard work by Network Rail’s teams over Christmas is a testament to that – it will make a big difference to their journeys over the coming years and we thank people for their patience while journeys may have taken a little longer than usual. As a result of some of the work that we’ve begun, passengers will also notice more improvements to stations over the coming months with the beginning of a programme of refurbishment work.”

In addition to the work at Ashford, there was work across the whole network, including:

  • Hither Green resignalling work continued with structure works, points, points enhancements and signage.
  • Platform work at Charing station, footbridge refurbishment work at Dover Priory, canopy painting and platform work at Nunhead station.
  • Electrical work at Dollands Moor, near Folkestone, including passing electrical cables under the tracks.
  • Cutting stabilisation works at Barming rock cutting.
  • Cutting stabilisation works at Barnehurst, SE London.
  • Signal testing and cable works between London Bridge and New Cross.
  • Track renewal between Swanley and Rochester.