We’re investing a record £1.25bn to upgrade track, signalling, embankments, structures, stations and depots to give passengers in Kent and South East London better journeys, with fewer delays

We’ll invest a quarter of a billion pounds to improve Lewisham station and the track and signalling through the area, as well as another billion-pound investment to upgrade the network in Kent and South East London.

The funding will tackle decades of under investment in the Kent network, replacing ageing equipment with new and more reliable technology to support improving train performance and keeping people moving for decades to come.

Easter works

It will be a busy weekend of engineering work in Kent over Easter as Network Rail continues to deliver a better railway for passengers as part of the South East Upgrade.

  • From Friday 2 until Monday 5 April, we are replacing a bridge just outside Dartford station to give passengers more reliable services. This means there will be road diversions and no trains will run to or from Dartford station. There will be a rail replacement bus service between Slade Green, Crayford, Dartford and Gravesend.
  • We will be carrying out essential maintenance work at Charing Cross and London Bridge to improve service reliability. No trains will run from Charing Cross station on Sunday 4 April.
    Some services will be diverted to Cannon Street.
  • Engineers will also be carrying out essential track upgrades between Hither Green and Petts Wood, Nunhead to St Mary Cray and on the ‘Catford Loop’. Rail replacement bus services will be running but passengers are advised to check before travelling.
  • Further into Kent the Hastings line between Hastings and Tonbridge will be closed as engineers continue embankment stabilisation work to protect the area from future landslips. Buses will replace trains between Battle and Tunbridge Wells.
  • London Charing Cross to/from London Bridge/New Cross maintenance and structures works. All Southeastern services will start/terminate from Cannon Street.

Key statistics

£340 million on track and junctions

£235 million on signalling work

£75 million on earthworks

£20 million on drainage improvements

£238 million on electrical and power supply improvements

£177 million replacing or refurbishing our structures

£133 million on buildings

Key projects

Upgrade work

As part of our record South East Upgrade we’re investing over £340m to replace more than 200km of track and equipment at hundreds of key junctions across the route.

Why is this work needed?

Good track quality is essential to running a safe and reliable railway. When track becomes worn or the track bed falls away (wet beds), speed restrictions are put place to ensure trains run safely, but this can lead to delays for passengers.

When equipment at railway junctions, points, switches and crossings, comes to the end of its operational life, more and more maintenance is needed to prevent faults and delays.

Poor track quality also affects cables and other electrical equipment causing faults and delays.

Over the control period we’re investing more than £340m to replace and improve signalling systems in Kent and South East London to give passengers better journeys with fewer delays.

Why is this work needed?

Signalling is a crucial part of the railway infrastructure, allowing trains to move safely around the network.

To protect passengers, our signalling systems are designed to fail to a safe, so faulty components can often result in signals remaining at red, causing delays.

With much of the signalling infrastructure in South East London nearing the end of its operational life we need to replace it to keep passengers moving reliably.

You can read more about our work to resignal the critical lines through Hither Green on our Hither Green resignalling page.

We’re investing more £133m to improve stations and buildings for passengers and our staff.

Many of the stations and railway buildings on the route date from the Victorian area need continuous maintenance to keep them up to the standard passengers expect. Investment is also to modernise stations to accommodate rising passenger numbers and provide the facilities people travelling today expect.

The railway in Kent and South East London is made up of hundreds of overbridges, underbridges, footbridges and tunnels.

We’re investing £177 million to replace or refurbish structures on the route, including 100 underbridges, 12 overbridges, 23 footbridges and one tunnel.

Why is this work needed?

Many of our structures were built or installed in the Victorian era and either need replaced or strengthened to meet the demands of the railway today.  Some structures do not meet modern standards meaning that trains running over them are subject to speed restrictions. While this is a precautionary measure, it does mean that trains can’t run at full line speed and services can be delayed.

Key projects

Catford Bridge replacements

Over the late May bank holiday and a several weekends before and after, we’ll be replacing a bridge which takes the Catford line over the Hayes line as part of £5.5m project.

First installed in 1890, trains passing over the bridge have been subject to 15mph speed restriction, slowing down and delaying services. By replacing it with a modern bridge, we’ll be able to run trains at full line speed, speeding up services and reducing delay to passengers.

More than half of the country’s rail network sits on embankments or in cuttings built in the Victorian era.  We’re investing more than £75 million to strengthen embankments and cuttings on the route.

Why is this work needed?

Understanding of ground engineering in the Victorian, when much of the rail network was built, was basic and the methods used to construct earthworks wouldn’t be used today.

In addition, the wetter winters and dryer, hotter summers we are now experiencing, combined with the fact that most of our cutting and embankments are at least 150 years old, means that delays due to failing embankments and cuttings are on the increase.

Read about our work to prevent landslips on the Bexleyheath line on our Bexleyheath line improvements page.


Major projects

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.

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.

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.

Over December 2019 and January 2020, we replaced track and three sets of old switches and crossings – the moveable rails which allow trains to switch tracks – at Ashford International station.

Track drainage was also 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, was upgraded to improve reliability.

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.

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