A new railway junction which will uncork a major bottleneck for Sussex commuters on the approach to one of London’s busiest stations, allowing more frequent and more reliable train services across large parts of the South-East, has moved a step closer to completion this week as the first new tracks were laid.
Similar to a motorway flyover or underpass, the Bermondsey Dive Under is a brand new railway junction that will untangle the tracks on the eastern approach to London Bridge station.
Currently, as trains from Sussex and Kent approach London Bridge, the railway lines intersect at a series of junctions, causing congestion and creating delays.
Network Rail say that when complete in 2018, the new junction will allow Southeastern trains travelling from Kent to ‘dive under’ the Sussex lines used by Southern and Thameslink trains, relieving the bottleneck of trains and improving the travel experience for millions of passengers travelling to and through the landmark new station.
Network Rail adds that the work at Bermondsey and the rebuilding of London Bridge station are both integral parts of the government-sponsored Thameslink Programme, which combines infrastructure upgrades, new technology and a fleet of brand new trains to provide better, more frequent and more reliable journeys to passengers across London and the South-East of England.
Simon Blanchflower, Network Rail’s Thameslink Programme director, said: “The Thameslink Programme is a key part of our Railway Upgrade Plan which will provide huge benefits for passengers on some of the busiest parts of our network. Our work at London Bridge station understandably grabs a lot of the attention, but just as important is the work we’re doing at Bermondsey and on the approaches to the station. Ultimately, that’s what allows us to give passengers what they really want – better, more frequent and more reliable journeys.”
The first tracks through the Bermondsey Dive Under were laid last week using Balfour Beatty’s New Track Construction (NTC) machine ahead of a major milestone for the project in December. Network Rail’s engineers will work round-the-clock over the Christmas weekend to bring the first track into passenger use from the early hours of December 27.
As a result there will be some changes to Southeastern services over the Christmas period, including on Christmas Eve. Passengers are advised to check before they travel.
Richard Dean, Train Services Director at Southeastern said: “The Bermondsey Dive Under is an important piece of infrastructure, and when it’s complete in 2018, will mean our passengers receive a much more reliable train service not affected by congestion.
“This is a huge job that requires a lot of work on the tracks to complete. Therefore Network Rail will be working during the Christmas and New Year period, and over Bank Holiday periods in 2017, including eight days around the 2017 August Bank Holiday. Services to and from Charing Cross, Waterloo East, Cannon Street and London Bridge will be revised or diverted. If you intend to travel during these times, please do plan in advance. Information about Christmas and New Year train times is available now at southeasternrailway.co.uk.”