Making engineering blockades work for passengers

The various communication methods used to warn passengers of the blockade of London Bridge and their alternative journey options

The challenge was to reconfigure the tracks, rebuild London Bridge station to introduce and enhanced train service whilst allowing 8% of UK rail passenger trains to pass through; 1,800 trains per day, 170 in the peak hour. This involved a number of major engineering blockades where trains could not operate into, out of or through certain major stations.

August 2017 – Southeastern train service impact

Train plans were developed collaboratively. The scope and schedule of the works were based around passenger numbers;

It was important to understand alternative journey options. Innovative use of Waterloo International station – part of Waterloo station that had not been used for train services since Eurostar services moved to St. Pancras International in 2007.

The stations challenges

  • Cannon Street station would serve more trains and have increased footfall.
  • Victoria station would be much busier
  • Innovative use of Waterloo International platforms would be required.

Planning and considering the passenger experience

  • Consider the passenger journey from start to end
  • Passenger welfare
  • Assisted travel
  • Alternative routes and ticketing validity
  • Keeping people happy – jelly beans, buskers, ponchos, water etc.

Communications strategy

  • A Network Rail led communications campaign was mobilised and delivered in three phases
  • Integrated and fully collaborative with the Train operating Companies, Network Rail and Transport for London
  • Focused on passengers and key stakeholders
  • Full employee engagement

Communications plan

  • Collateral distributed to 150 stations
  • Brand ambassador team visits
  • Thameslink Programme stand at London termini
  • Campaign micro-site
  • Targeted digital advertising deployed to drive passengers to NRES and Trainline aligned with CBYT (Check before You Travel)
  • Posters, leaflets and ‘noticeable’ awareness announcements:
    Click here to listen:
    Awareness announcement numbers 1 to 4 regarding the eight-day closure…
  • ‘Surprise and’ delight engagement activity
  • High intensity stakeholder engagement.

Employee engagement

  • See examples in the PDF case study below.

The operations challenges and successes

  • See examples in the PDF case study below.

Without Charing Cross and London Bridge

  • Used Waterloo International, Victoria, Cannon Street and Blackfriars stations
  • Resource planning was key – stations, drivers, driver pilots and conductors all involved
  • Route learning.
  1. Key challenges

  • Recruiting subject matter operational experts who are not used to working in a project environment
  • Maintaining operational expertise, for example drivers – retaining driver competency was important
  • Being clear on reasons why certain changes were not acceptable from an operational perspective and explaining these to the project team
  • Identifying suitable resource to develop the driver training books – experienced driver and someone who is good technically to be able to document the planned changes.
  1. Recommendations for future projects

The following recommendations, based on the direct experiences of the Train Operating Companies involved, will result in a more effective method of introducing infrastructure changes that impact on drivers:

  • Focus on passengers works well – start early and ensure all routes are covered including those that may not be obvious
  • External robust assurance reviews incorporating operations and passenger impacts
  • Strategy for Entry Into Service of new assets and response organisation is key during and post the blockades
  • Command & Control structure and efficient focused progress reporting
  • Build on each experience
  • Celebrate success – thank all for their contributions.


Case Study produced by Anne Clark, Network Rail Project Manager, April 2019.

Further information

For more information on this Learning Legacy case study please email