More than 2,600 Network Rail staff worked round-the-clock over the Christmas holiday period on the tracks in the South-East.
Network Rail spent almost £11m over the period as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan, with 24,000 people across the country working.
This Christmas, the Thameslink Programme brought the first tracks through the Bermondsey Dive Under into use. Similar to a motorway 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.
The new line, which will be used by Southern trains, offers a glimpse of the future where there will be six new lines in total running over and through the dive-under, serving Southern, Southeastern and Thameslink passengers.
From 2018, the new junction will allow Southeastern and Southern trains to ‘dive under’ the newly built lines that will be used by Thameslink services, improving the travel experience for millions of passengers travelling to and through the landmark new station.
Elsewhere, Network Rail’s teams of engineers worked across the South-East for 28,000 hours, sacrificing Christmas with their families to improve the railway that 510 million passenger journeys rely on each year.
The projects included laying new drains deep underground in Sevenoaks Tunnel, replacing a worn-out junction at New Cross, repairing a bridge at Lewisham, putting in a new bridge span at Purley, laying new rail at St John’s in south east London, and refurbishing several sets of points, which allow trains to cross from one track to another, between Swanley and Bickley.
Network Rail South East route managing director, John Halsall, said: “We appreciate the patience shown by passengers while we continued our Railway Upgrade Plan over Christmas and the New Year.
“The hard work by our teams across the South-East will make a real difference to our passengers, especially those who will use the Bermondsey Dive Under which will allow more trains to run while reducing delays on this busy stretch of railway.
“It is a privilege to do the job that we do and we are absolutely focussed on continuing to work hard to improve our railway.”