The railway will be closed through Hither Green, in South East London, for nine days from Saturday 25th July until Sunday 2nd August 2020, Network Rail has confirmed.
Signalling upgrades will be made to the 1970s system, which controls trains on the Bromley North and Sidcup branches and the mainline through Hither Green. The system is being completely replaced with a more reliable system.
Rail replacement buses will replace trains on the affected routes for the nine days, with trains resuming on Monday 3rd August.
Extra buses will operate to make sure social distancing can be followed on the replacement services. There will be ticket acceptance on alternative routes and Transport for London services, ensuring social distancing can be maintained.
Whilst extra capacity will be available, only critical passengers must use the services.
Fiona Taylor, Network Rail route director for Kent, said “This work is so important for delivering a reliable railway for the many passengers who travel through this area. The signalling system is very old and in urgent need of upgrade. We wanted to get this work done over Easter, but because technicians can’t work closely together for long periods, it is going to take double the amount of time it would normally take to finish the job. We have taken the decision to complete the work in the summer holidays because we wanted to give those passengers who are still travelling, many of them critical workers, enough time to plan ahead. We also need time to put alternative travel options in place, such as an enhanced bus replacement service. Our advice to passengers over the nine days remains the same – Please only travel if you really have to, leaving space on trains for those who really need it. We are working with Southeastern to make provision for social distancing at stations and on buses. I recognise that this is a tough ask for people who are already coping with changes to travel, but this vital upgrade will provide a more reliable and resilient railway for years to come.”
Southeastern Train Services Director, Scott Brightwell said “The current Government advice is to please only travel if your journey is absolutely essential and to avoid public transport unless you have no alternative. People are also being asked to work from home if they can. We obviously don’t know what the travel advice will be at the end of July when the Hither Green work is taking place, but we are alerting our passengers now so they can plan ahead. We will provide full details about alternative travel arrangements later in the summer.”
The work that will take place on the nine days includes the commissioning of the new signalling equipment and transferring the control of the signals from the London Bridge Area Signalling Centre to Three Bridges Rail Operating Centre.
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