Record-breaking Christmas investment programme

Record-breaking Christmas investment programme

Work at London Bridge this month will form part of the biggest Christmas and New Year investment programme ever carried out on Britain’s rail network.

In addition to London Bridge, work around Watford, Reading, Wimbledon, Chadwell Heath and King’s Cross will be among the projects delivered in a £200m investment programme this Christmas period.

An army of engineers over 11,000 strong will be spending their Christmas Day, and the days that follow, working on the railway across Britain to deliver improvements for passengers, with new facilities and new equipment designed to reduce delays, improve train performance and build a bigger, better railway for the 4.5m people who travel on the network every day.

Dave Ward, managing director for Network Rail’s South East route, said: “Making the railway better is what we aim to do everyday and our investment programme this Christmas, the biggest yet, is fully focussed on delivering a better service for passengers.

“Passenger numbers have doubled since 1997 and this Christmas investment programme forms a key part of the record £25bn being invested in our railway over the next five years to meet growing demand and improve and expand our congested railway network.

“With an 11,000-strong army we will deliver a huge amount of work during a quieter time for train travel. New technology and working practices mean we can keep lines open while our people work safely alongside, causing much less disruption than would otherwise be the case.”

The major investment schemes this Christmas in London and the South East include:

  • London Bridge – as part of the £6.5bn Thameslink Programme London Bridge will see two new platforms opened and new track laid as the project moves to the next stage of the biggest station redevelopment the capital has ever seen, transforming the travel experience for the station’s 1 million weekly users. Work begins on December 20, with no Southern or Thameslink services calling from then until January 5.
  • King’s Cross – New overhead power equipment will be installed to link the new Canal Tunnels, which join the lines linking King’s Cross to the North, with the Thameslink route through St Pancras. This will enable trains from Peterborough and Cambridge to eventually run through London to the South Coast, starting in 2018. In addition renewals at Harringay and Holloway will help improve the performance and reliability of services.
  • Watford – will see passengers enjoying a more reliable and resilient service as a new, state-of-the-art signalling system is brought into use in, and around, the Watford area.
  • Chadwell Heath – As work continues to prepare the line from London Liverpool Street to Shenfield for Crossrail, Network Rail will install new infrastructure at Chadwell Heath to increase capacity and operational flexibility. Network Rail will keep adjacent railway lines open, meaning the work will have very little impact on passengers. Crossrail will transform services with new and more frequent trains and will enable passengers to make journeys to parts of the City, West End, west London and Heathrow without the need to change trains.
  • Wimbledon – the first of 7 weekend closures to completely replace a complicated junction outside the station.
  • Reading – will see one of the last pieces of the jigsaw to unblock the notorious train bottleneck around Reading station with the completion of a newly build viaduct (elevated railway) to the west of the station leading to smoother more reliable services.

While these are the biggest schemes over this very busy period, there are a further 300 projects being undertaken in 2,000 worksites across the country by Network Rail and its contractors between Christmas and New Year with the majority having little or no planned impact on passengers. A significant portion of this work will be completed before services resume on Saturday 27 December (no services run on Christmas Day with very limited services running on Boxing Day).

Passenger numbers are traditionally lower over the Christmas period, with around 2m travelling per day – as opposed to 4.5m during the normal working week.

Mr Ward concluded: “Christmas is one of the few vital times in the year where we have enough time, to carry out really big engineering tasks, such as knocking down and rebuilding bridges and installing new, more reliable signalling systems. This is vital investment work that will improve our railway – investment that is funded in no small part by the fares passengers pay, so we have to make every penny count.”

Further information about what’s happening at London Bridge can be found on our December 2014 and January 2015 page.