Passengers in the south east advised to plan ahead of major rail upgrades this Christmas and New Year

With Christmas less than twelve weeks away, passengers across the south east are advised to plan ahead as there will be major changes to rail services and significant closures throughout the Christmas and New Year period.

As part of its Railway Upgrade Plan, Network Rail will be undertaking several major projects across the region, including:

  • Major Thameslink Programme engineering work between London Bridge and Charing Cross, and London Blackfriars and St Pancras International, from Saturday, 23 December until Monday, 1 January 2018
  • Improvement work at Sevenoaks Tunnel between Tonbridge and Sevenoaks from Saturday, 23 to Tuesday, 26 December
  • Work to complete the new platform at Redhill station from Saturday, 23 December to Monday, 1 January 2018.












Southeastern, Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express services will be affected, as well as other train operators. No services will run in the south east on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, including High Speed trains to and from St Pancras International.

Passengers travelling into central London over this period or to Gatwick Airport on Boxing Day could be severely impacted by the work and will need a ‘plan B’ to complete their journeys.

For travel advice, including alternative rail and bus options and ticket validity, passengers should visit or check with their train operator. 

John Halsall, Network Rail’s South East route managing director, said: “This Christmas and New Year our engineers will be working day and night to improve the railway for passengers across the south east. As part of the Thameslink Programme, we’ll be bringing the remainder of the brand new, modern concourse into use at London Bridge and carrying out major resignalling work on the surrounding railway. Elsewhere, we’ll be finishing the new platform at Redhill so more trains can run in future and continuing our work deep inside Sevenoaks Tunnel, one of the longest and oldest on the network.

“This will be the final significant stage of work at London Bridge that will affect train services on working days and I would like to thank passengers for their patience as the final countdown begins to an entirely rebuilt, totally accessible station fit for the twenty-first century.  I strongly advise passengers to plan ahead and to check before they travel as we continue our Railway Upgrade Plan.”

Nick Brown, Chief Operating Officer for Govia Thameslink Railway which operates Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express, said: “There are significant changes to our train services this festive period, particularly at Redhill and Gatwick Airport. This supports our programme to modernise the network with new infrastructure, new trains, new technology and new, faster, seamless journeys. I would urge passengers to check and plan head.”

Ellie Burrows, Train Services Director, Southeastern said, “We know that our passengers will already be thinking about their travel plans over Christmas and New Year.  We want to give them plenty of notice now about the available options. We encourage everyone to plan ahead and try to avoid travelling during peak times if possible.”

New year, new station – final part of London Bridge concourse opens

As the railway reopens in the New Year, passengers at London Bridge will be greeted by the remaining section of the brand new concourse and newly completed platforms 1-5. Southeastern services will operate on a new timetable and Southeastern trains to and from Cannon Street will once again stop at London Bridge, meaning that tickets will no longer be accepted on TfL alternative routes.

The Thameslink Programme has already delivered longer, 12-car trains between Brighton and Bedford, platform lengthening at several stations, track work and upgraded stations at Farringdon and Blackfriars. The redevelopment of London Bridge station, a £1bn project that has been ongoing since 2013, is the cornerstone of the Thameslink Programme. After the Christmas and New Year period, the project enters the final countdown to completion; there will still be work to do in the station and on the tracks, but this will be completed during evenings and weekends, rather than working days. Once complete, London Bridge will be a modern, spacious and fully accessible station, fit for the 21st century and able to support the new timetables, meaning better journeys, more reliable services for passengers and, from May 2018, Thameslink services to new destinations