Over the next five years we’re investing £1.25bn to upgrade the railway in Kent and South East London

Carrying well over 2,000 trains and 300,000 passengers every weekday, the railway in Kent and South East London is among the busiest and most congested in the country.

The infrastructure is also some of the oldest and most complex, which means it’s more difficult to maintain, leading to faults and delays for passengers.

Passenger experience is at the heart of everything we do and we recognise that performance has not been good enough.

That’s why we’ll be investing a record £1.25 billion over the next five years to improve the railway. We’ll be replacing old equipment with brand new, reliable technology to improve journeys for passengers.

Our plans

  • Replace 429km of track, at a cost of over £201m.
  • Spend £162m on new signalling equipment, reducing faults and delays for passengers.
  • Spend £21.4m to improve safety at level crossings.
  • Replace 560 switches and crossings, junctions where trains switch tracks, at a cost of £170m.
  • Spend £170m on replacing or refurbishing our structures, including 100 underbridges, 12 overbridges, 23 footbridges and 1 tunnel.
  • Strengthen 9 other structures, so they can carry more trains and more passengers at the same time.
  • Renew 90km of fencing to prevent trespass at a cost of £2.1m.
  • Clear overgrown vegetation across 51km of railway to prevent seasonal delays caused fallen leaves and trees.
  • We’ll also be introducing traffic and incident management technology at our control centres. This will help our signallers manage the service more efficiently and recover from disruptive incidents more quickly.

Major projects in delivery

Over the Easter and the May 2019 bank holidays, we completed a £55m upgrade to the signalling system on the Greenwich and Blackheath lines, replacing old kit with new, more dependable technology. The project also transferred control of the signalling to the state-of-the-art rail operating centre at Three Bridges, which will give passengers a more reliable service.

Over the late May bank holiday, the old switches and crossings – the moveable rails which allow trains to switch tracks – at Angerstein Junction near Charlton were completely replaced, along with the track. This means passengers travelling through these parts of south London can enjoy smoother rides on trains with fewer faults or delays due to the track or signalling in the area.

During June 2019 we replaced more than 1100m of track around Crofton Park station in south east London. We also replaced more than 3000 tonnes of ballast (the stones which ensure the track remains stable) and more than 1100 sleepers, the concrete blocks that rails sit on.

This means that passengers can now enjoy smoother and more comfortable rides through the area, as well as a more reliable service with fewer delays due to faults with the track. As part of this job we also realigned the track through Crofton Park station, helping to reduce the stepping-gap on platform two at the station.

One of the busiest junctions in the country, North Kent East Junction is where trains from the Greenwich and New Cross lines meet on the approach to London Bridge.

Over five weekends in July and August 2019, we replaced six sets of switches and crossings with new, more reliable kit in a £6.7m investment.

This crucial part of the network sees more than 600 trains travel through the area on a typical day. The work had significant benefits for passengers travelling on Southeastern and Thameslink services in Kent.

We’re also working on an £81m project to upgrade the signalling system on the lines from Hither Green to Mottingham, Grove Park and Bromley North. The switches and crossings at Hither Green junction will also be replaced with new equipment.

This project, which is due for completion in Easter 2020, will reduce delays caused by signalling faults and points failures. Visit our project page to find out more information.

From Wednesday 25 December – Sunday 29 December 2019, as well as a number of weekends before and after, we will replace track and three sets of old switches and crossings – the moveable rails which allow trains to switch tracks – at Ashford International station.  Track drainage will be improved, helping to maintain track quality and reduce delays from track faults well into the future. The third rail, where train draw power and points, the mechanical equipment that moves switches and crossings, will also be upgraded to improve reliability.

On the following dates Southeastern Highspeed, Eurostar will not stop at Ashford.

Mainline services will run but some services will be subject to change:

  • Saturday 23 – Sunday 24 November 2019
  • Wednesday 25 – Sunday 29 December 2019 – including one ordinary working day
  • Saturday 4 – Sunday 5 January 2020
  • Saturday 11 – Sunday 12 January 2020
  • Sunday 19 January 2020.

During this work there will be no Southeastern Highspeed services between Canterbury West, Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International.

Passengers who would normally travel to London St Pancras via Ashford should use Mainline services, which will take around 45 minutes longer than the usual Highspeed trains .Journeys can be re-planned on the Southeastern website and National Rail Enquiries.

A rail replacement bus service will operate between Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International, and Ashford International and Canterbury West.


During the February half term next year we will be closing the Bexleyheath line to carry out major work to protect passengers from disruption caused by landslips.

Find out more about the Bexleyheath line improvement work.

Keeping you on the move

Record investment means that we’ll be doing more work to improve the railway than ever before.  We’ll do most of the work when trains are not running,  but will need to work at weekends and on bank holidays.

If you are planning to travel at the weekend or on a bank holiday, please don’t get caught out.  Always check before you travel at National Rail Enquiries or with your train operator, Southeastern or Thameslink.

Contact us

For more information or to get in touch with us, please contact us by visiting our contact us page or by calling our 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.