The main line from Tonbridge, Sevenoaks and Orpington to Charing Cross and Cannon Street will be closed through the Hither Green area, in the London Borough of Lewisham, southeast London, for nine days from Saturday 25 July to Sunday 2 August 2020, along with the Sidcup and Bromley North branches.
Trains from the lines between Ashford, Tonbridge, Hastings and Tunbridge Wells will be taking different routes into London and, in some cases, being diverted to London Victoria. Other trains will be replaced by buses as work goes on to replace the 1970s-era signalling system.
Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s Kent route director, said: “We know this is a tough ask of passengers who are already managing changes to their journeys and we haven’t taken the decision to close the lines lightly.
“The current signalling system, which controls the movement of trains on the lines through Hither Green, has been in place since the 1970s. It’s old, unreliable, and becoming more difficult to source spare parts and maintain.
“If we don’t upgrade now, it could lead to major delays and crowding for Southeastern passengers in future. That’s a risk we weren’t prepared to take.”
A new, £81 million system will be delivered over the nine days, along with other improvements:
- Track circuits, which detect trains, are being replaced with 254 more reliable axle counters;
- 58 new signals and nine new, more easily 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 turn back 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 state-of-the-art Three Bridges ROC (rail operating 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.
Commuters from parts of South East London and Kent are being warned that their journeys to and from central London could take longer and peak time services will be busier during week-long engineering work at Hither Green.
Network Rail has produced a handy map showing which lines are closed and which services will be disrupted: