Nine day closure of South East London lines, Saturday 25 July – Sunday 2 August 2020 (inclusive)

The railway through Hither Green, in South East London, will be closed for nine days from Saturday, 25 July to Sunday, 2 August 2020, as we complete critical signalling upgrades through the area.

The 1970s signalling system, which controls the movement of trains on the Bromley North, Sidcup branches and main line through Hither Green, is being completely replaced with a modern, more reliable system.

Buses will replace trains on affected routes for the nine days, with normal services resuming on Monday, 3 August 2020. While extra capacity will be laid on, only critical passengers and those who absolutely must travel are advised to. 

Why the work must take place

This work is so important for passengers who travel through this area, not just at Hither Green but on into Lewisham and London terminals too. The 1970s signalling system is very old and in urgent need of upgrade with maintenance and sourcing of spare parts becoming ever more challenging.

Additionally, with social distancing in place for our maintenance teams finding and fixing faults is taking significantly longer. That could mean major delays at a time when some passengers and freight users are relying on us more than ever. 

We wanted to bring the new signalling system into use over four days at Easter, but because technicians can’t work closely together for long periods, it is going to take double the length of time it would normally take to finish the job.

We have taken the decision to complete the work in the summer holidays because we wanted to give those passengers who are still travelling, many of them critical workers, enough time to plan ahead.

We also need time to put alternative travel options in place, such as an enhanced bus replacement service.

Keeping critical workers and those who cannot work from home moving

Buses will replace trains on routes between Lewisham, Sidcup, Orpington and Bromley North.

Extra buses will be laid on to make sure social distancing can be achieved on the replacement services. Tickets will be accepted on alternative routes and Transport for London services, which will also be increased to ensure passengers can maintain distance.

While extra capacity will be laid on, we are asking people to leave space on trains that are running for those who need it, and we are working with Southeastern to make sure there’s provision for social distancing at stations and on buses.

This is a tough ask for people who are already coping with changes to travel and we would like to apologise for the disruption to their journeys, but the work is needed to ensure we can keep passengers and freight moving reliably now and in the future.

Plan your journey

What are we doing?  

The 1970s signalling system on the Grove Park, Sidcup and Bromley North lines is life expired – past it’s recommended operational life – and needs replaced. 

We’re delivering a new, £81m system and other improvements:

  • Track circuits, which detect trains, have been replaced with 254 more reliable axle counters.
  • 58 new signals and 9 new, easier maintained signal gantries built.
  • Power supply upgraded and made more resilient.
  • Signalling improvements to provide turnback opportunities at Hither Green, Grove Park and Lee, allowing trains to turnback when there are delays or during engineering works.
  • Signal improvements at Grove Park to allow 12-car trains to stop at platform 3.
  • Signalling control of the area will be transferred to the to the state-of-the-art Three Bridges route control centre, helping to recover the service more quickly when there is an incident.
  • Deep cleaning, maintenance of closed stations, platform and canopy repairs and other improvements will take place on the affected lines to give passengers additional benefits.

Hither Green junction renewal and track improvements – August 2019

Over Autumn 2019, we replaced the existing switches and crossings (the moveable section of rail that allows trains to switch track) at the London end of the platforms outside Hither Green station.

The upgrades will provide significant benefits for passengers, who can expect fewer delays caused by faults at the junction.

We also replaced track between Grove Park and Chislehurst and between Sidcup and Mottingham to give passengers more reliable journeys and a smoother ride.

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Passenger Survey

If you use this line or are affected by this work, please complete our survey to help us plan future projects.

Contact us

For more information, call our National Helpline on 03457 11 41 41 or contact us on Twitter @NetworkRailSE.