Network Rail report that there has been a 30% reduction in the number of signalling, track and other infrastructure faults in the wider Lewisham area. However, because the area is so busy and congested, with more than half of all Southeastern trains travelling through it, even minor incidents can have a major knock on impact.
Network Rail are spending a £250 million in the track and signalling through the Lewisham area.
As part of the project, the old 1970s signalling system which controlled the movement of trains on the lines through Hither Green station has been replaced. It had become unreliable and spare parts were hard to find.
The new system, is controlled from a modern state-of-the-art operations centre at Three Bridges, should mean fewer faults, fewer delays and better journeys for passengers travelling between Kent, Hither Green, Lewisham and into Central London.
What work was completed at Hither Green?
- Providing turnback capability at Hither Green, Grove Park and Lee – this means that more trains can run when there are unplanned delays or engineering works.
- Signalling control of the area will be transferred to the to the state-of-the-art Three Bridges route control centre, helping to recover the service more quickly when there is an incident.
- Track circuits – the train detection system, replaced with 254 more reliable axle counters.
- 92 new signal heads, 58 new signals and nine new, easier to maintain signal gantries built.
- 24km of new power cable and 19km of new fibre cable installed.
- 86 sets of points enhanced to improve reliability of junctions.
- Power supply upgraded and made more resilient.Better signalling at Grove Park station to allow 12-car trains to stop at platform 3 during unplanned disruption – making it easier to keep passengers moving
- Deep cleaning, painting, platform and canopy repairs at Chislehurst, Elmstead Woods, Grove Park, Sundridge Park, Bromley North, Lee, Mottingham and New Eltham stations.
- Work to improve Hither Green and Chislehurst stations will continue over the next few months along with the removal of the old signalling kit.
Network Rail have produced a video of the work at Hither Green.
Developing plans for the future in Lewisham
Network Rail, working with Transport for London and Lewisham Council, has secured £5.5million from the Department for Transport to fund the early design and development stage for a new improved Lewisham station. This project would provide an economic boost to South East London, improving the transport connections required to enable growth in homes and jobs.
Network Rail have said: “If the bid is successful and the approvals are granted, passengers can look forward to a signature ‘gateway’ station fit for the future. This includes provision for increased capacity on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) – funded for 2023 – and the proposed Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham.” Although delays to the Bakerloo Line extension have been the subject of speculation lately.
These plans are at an early stage. The wider upgrade proposals, beyond the design stage, are not funded and they would need planning approval. Any future upgrade will have to go through standard town planning procedures.
When Lewisham Council’s ‘A Vision for Rail’ was published on this website in March 2018, Cllr Alan Hall said: “Railways are incredibly important to Lewisham and have shaped our local communities. I have said we must be ambitious for Lewisham but local residents need to be involved in our decisions.” This applies now more than ever.