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, North Kent East Junction will have six sets of switches and crossings replaced with new, more reliable kit in a £6.7m investment.

To reduce disruption for passengers, we will also be replacing track on the approaches to Cannon Street Station at the same time.

This crucial part of the network sees more than 600 trains travel through the area on a typical day and as a result there will be significant impacts on Southeastern and Thameslink services while this work is taking place.

  • On Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 JulyCannon Street, London Bridge, Waterloo East and Charing Cross will be closed
  • On Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 AugustCannon Street, London Bridge, Waterloo East and Charing Cross will be closed
  • On Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 August, Cannon Street station will be closed
  • On Sunday 18 August, Cannon Street station will be closed

Passengers should check before they travel and allow more time for their journeys if travelling into London in late July and early August.

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.

At Christmas 2019 we will be replacing three sets of old switches and crossings – the moveable rails which allow trains to switch tracks – at Ashford International station. This will mean passengers travelling through Ashford will be able to enjoy smoother rides on trains with fewer delays due to faults with the track.

Preparatory work to improve the drainage in the area will take place over the weekend of 24/25 November. The main work to replace the switches and crossings will take place between 25 December and 30 December, including on Friday 27 December, a normal working day.

There will be changes to Southeastern services and no high speed or international services will call at Ashford on the above dates. Passengers should check before they travel and allow more time for their journeys if travelling through Kent this Christmas.

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.