We want to make the train service through the Lewisham area meet the high standards our passengers deserve
It’s incredibly frustrating when passengers hear of another signalling problem, which means you can’t get to work on time or get home to see your loved ones. Our job is to get you where you need to be, safely and on time. So, addressing the historical issues in the Lewisham area is critical.
As part of our South East Upgrade, we’re investing a quarter of billion pound in the track and signalling through the Lewisham area. We’re also bringing forward investment to improve accessibility and tackle crowding at Lewisham station.
Christmas upgrade programme
Over the Christmas and New Year we carried out major improvement work between St Johns and Lewisham as part of the £1.25bn South East Upgrade, an investment programme to replace ageing 1970s infrastructure with more reliable equipment.
We replaced two key railway junctions; one at Parks Bridge and the other in St Johns. This involved replacing 2.5km of track and laying 7,500 tonnes of ballast and 1460 sleepers as well as a number of sets of points in the area. This work will improve the reliability of train services in the area
What’s causing delays in the Lewisham area?
Recently there has been a 30% reduction in the number of signalling, track and other infrastructure faults in the wider Lewisham area. However, because the area is so busy and congested, with more than half of all Southeastern trains travelling through it, even minor incidents can have a major knock on impact.
That’s why we’re spending around £250million over the next four years to reduce delays and make your journeys even more reliable.
What are we doing?
In 2019, we switched on a brand new, £55m signalling system on the Greenwich and Blackheath lines which is already reducing delays and giving passengers better journeys. This work finished and is a key reason for the 30% reduction in delay causing incidents in the Lewisham area.
Hither Green resignalling
Over nine days, from Saturday 25 July to Sunday 2 August 2020, we brought a new, more reliable signalling system into use on the Sidcup and Bromley North branches, and main line through Hither Green.
The old signalling system, which controlled the movement of trains on those lines had been in place since the 1970s. It was old, unreliable, difficult to maintain and source spare parts.
The new system will mean fewer faults, fewer delays and better journeys for passengers through not just Hither Green, but into Lewisham, Central London and on into Kent.
Find out more on our Hither Green resignalling project page.
Track circuit and electrical resilience programme – a circa £20m investment to replace track circuits and key electrical components that can cause signalling delay.
Remote monitoring systems
Remote condition monitoring will be installed on all key pieces of infrastructure, such as junctions, to detect and respond to faults before they delay trains. This work is running over the next year with minimal disruption to passenger journeys.
Improving reliability at critical junctions
A more than £50m investment to replace points, switches and crossings at key junctions in the Lewisham area, namely St Johns, Parks Bridge, Courthill, Grove Park, New Cross and Lewisham, where any faults can lead to significant delays to passengers. This work is underway with key junctions at Hither Green and on the Greenwich lines already replaced. This work will continue in phases over the next four years.
Wet bed removal programme
Wet beds are caused when the track bed becomes saturated with water, causing bumpy rides and the failure of electrical equipment, including signalling. We’ve already removed 2,000 in the Lewisham area and plan to remove a further 1,400 over the next year. This is an ongoing programme with minimal passenger disruption.
Reducing overcrowding in the short term
In addition, to the massive investment in track and signalling we also know that we need to improve Lewisham station for passengers and to reduce delays caused by overcrowding.
Network Rail have secured £788,000 from government to help deal with the large volumes of people that use the station.
Working with Southeastern, the project is looking at providing more shelters and customer information screens along the entire length of the platforms, helping to make trains more punctual as passengers will be able to spread out along the length of the train.
The project will also consider upgrades to wayfinding and ticket gates to make it easier for passengers to move through the station. An extension to the main ticket gate canopy would keep passengers dry.
The project hopes to deliver some of the selected improvements by October 2021. Ahead of this project, Network Rail is carrying out work to improve the stepping distance from trains onto platforms 1 and 2, as well as raising the height of platform 2. The large gap has been a key reason for delays. The work on platform 2 was completed in January 2020 (see picture below) and the work on platform will 1 will be finished by Summer 2021.
Developing plans for the future
Network Rail, working with Transport for London and Lewisham Council, has secured £5.52 million from the Department for Transport to fund the early design and development stage for an upgraded Lewisham station.
The project would provide an economic boost to South East London, improving the transport connections required to enable growth in homes and jobs.
If the bid is successful and the approvals are granted, passengers can look forward to a signature ‘gateway’ station fit for the future. This includes provision for increased capacity on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) – funded for 2023 – and the proposed Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham.
It’s important to stress that we are at an early stage. The wider upgrade proposals, beyond the design stage, are not yet funded and still subject to planning approval. Any future upgrade will have to go through standard town planning procedures, including consultation with local residents, businesses and other stakeholders.
The design stage would provide a range of options to take to consultation before proceeding to the next funding stage.
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