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Running the railway in the Southern region

In the Southern Region we have some of the busiest and most complex railway infrastructure in the world.

Passenger numbers have doubled in the last twenty years while train services are mostly running on the same rail space and infrastructure as before. Today’s passenger services also run more frequently and over more hours of the day, seven days a week which causes more wear and severely limits the amount of maintenance time we have available to keep things running smoothly.

Ballast train

Much of our network was originally built in the 1800s and some of the track layouts, the ground engineering technology, the electrical supply and the station designs are perhaps not of the standard we would do things today.

Wherever we can, we are increasing the use of smart technology to squeeze the maximum capacity out of the railway space we have. Unfortunately, the historical nature of our infrastructure does affect the reliability of the network and impacts passenger and freight services.

Delays explained

We have many variables to contend with across the railway network including things such as extreme weather, electrical faults and track failures through to criminal damage and trespass. Below are three common issues we face at this time of year. Check back at other times and these will switch to the issues of the season or the moment. You can find out more, in our dedicated delays explained section.

How flooding affects the railway

How we’re reducing signalling failures

How we prevent tracks getting too hot

How our region deals with winter saturation

High Brooms Landslip, Kent

Surely removing vegetation causes landslips? Actually, no. The extreme rainfall of the last couple of winters saturates the ground and causes the steep old Victorian clay banks to slip. Large, heavy trees and bushes can drag the saturated earth down the slopes on to the tracks.

Newington Landslip, Kent

To prevent future landslips, we need to re-grade the slopes of our oldest railway banks and improve drainage at the foot of the slope to help rainwater escape. We also use long soil nails to secure the banks and install monitoring devices to keep an eye on any unwanted movement.

If you would like information about the real time running of the railway including today’s services and any ongoing disruption, please visit our service updates page and select your train operator.

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