With Easter fast approaching, rail passengers are being reminded not to put all their eggs in one basket and make sure they plan ahead before travelling as Network Rail carries out essential railway upgrades this bank holiday weekend.
Across south and south east London, Sussex, Kent and parts of Surrey, Network Rail’s engineers and maintenance teams will be using the four-day weekend, when the railway is quieter than usual, to deliver a huge programme of investment that will improve journeys for passengers on some of the busiest parts of Britain’s rail network.
At London Bridge, work continues to rebuild the country’s fourth-busiest station and the surrounding railway as part of the Thameslink Programme, with major track and signalling work between Charing Cross/Cannon Street and New Cross over the weekend, resulting in significant changes to Southeastern services.
In Kent, a major project to improve the railway through Sevenoaks tunnel will complete over Easter following initial work at Christmas. This two-mile long tunnel is the longest main line tunnel in the south east – and one of the wettest, which can cause problems for train services. Network Rail engineers will dig up and replace the drainage system through the tunnel, while also repairing brickwork and the lining of some of the 13 ventilation shafts within the tunnel.
Angie Doll, Southern and Gatwick Express’ passenger services director, said: “We once again urge people to check before they travel. Easter Sunday is the biggest day of change for us as there will be no Gatwick Express trains, and most Southern services which normally serve Victoria will be diverted into London Bridge. Passengers travelling between Gatwick Airport and London will need to take a Southern train at London Bridge or a Thameslink service at Blackfriars.”
John Halsall, Network Rail South East route managing director, said: “I would like to thank passengers for their patience while we use this opportunity, when the railway is quieter than usual, to continue our Railway Upgrade Plan and carry out the maintenance necessary to keep this busy stretch of railway safe for the millions of passengers that use it each year. There will be changes to services across the south east and I advise passengers to consider their options in advance and check before they travel this Easter.”
Ellie Burrows, train services director at Southeastern, said: “Work to improve our railway continues this Easter bank holiday meaning some lines will be closed and some routes will be diverted to other stations. Please plan ahead, allow more time for your journey and check before you travel. Full details are available on our website, on our On Track app, or by picking up a leaflet from any of our stations.”
Elsewhere in the south east of England, Network Rail will undertake resignalling work between West Croydon and Epsom Downs from Friday 14 to Monday 17 April. Track maintenance will be underway between Paddock Wood and Strood from late Saturday night until the early hours of Monday 17 April, and also between Sittingbourne and Herne Bay/Dover and from Barnham to Bognor Regis, which will mean no trains on these routes on Sunday 16 April. Rail replacement services will be in place.
Information about changes to services over this time can be found at National Rail Enquiries www.nationalrail.co.uk/easter. Information about changes to Transport for London services can be found via www.tfl.gov.uk/easter-travel.