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£200 million to make journeys easier for rail travellers

Work continues on the rail network over the festive period, with 11,000 staff working on track and signals. Among the key projects in the south are:

London Bridge - Over 1,000 staff are laying new track, signals and working on the station redevelopment that will ease capacity. It is part of the £6.5 billion Thameslink Project. It will lead to improvements to rail services from Sussex, Surrey and Kent to London. Work continues until January 5th.

Reading - A new flyover is being completed to ease congestion outside the station costing £45 million. It is one of the final phases of the £900 million station upgrade. The new flyover opens on January 4th.

South West Trains - Hundreds of staff are working on the lines into Waterloo to renew points. Work continues during weekends in January and February.

West Coast - At Watford major work is being carried out to improve services through Buckinghamshire to the north and Scotland.

“Making the railway better is what we aim to do every day and our investment programme this Christmas, the biggest yet, is fully focused on delivering a better service for passengers.

“Passenger numbers have doubled since 1997 and this Christmas investment programme forms a key part of the record £25 billion being invested in our railway over the next five years to meet growing demand and improve and expand our congested railway network.

“With an 11,000-strong army we will deliver a huge amount of work during a quieter time for train travel. New technology and working practices mean we can keep lines open while our people work safely alongside, causing much less disruption than would otherwise be the case.”

– Jim Syddall, Route Manager, Network Rail
Hundreds of Network Rail staff at London Bridge work to improve the lines from Kent, Sussex and Surrey to London. Credit: ITV Meridian/Mike Pearse
In the festive spirit on Christmas Dayy Credit: ITV Meridian/Mike Pearse

Rail workers tuck into some festive cheer: Chips rather than turkey

A record 11,000 rail engineers are working over the festive period to maintain and renew track and signals.

Network Rail staff are out at 3,000 locations with £200 million being spent.

Among the key projects in the south are:

London Bridge - Over 1,000 staff are laying new track, signals and working on the station redevelopment that will ease capacity. It is part of the £6.5 billion Thameslink Project.

It will lead to improvements to rail services from Sussex, Surrey and Kent to London. Work continues until January 5th.

Christmas Day dinner .... with chips Credit: ITV Meridian
Mayonnaise with chips on Christmas Day Credit: ITV Meridian

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Work at Lewisham station completed

Commuters who have had their journeys disrupted over the last month have been thanked for their patience after Network Rail completed repair work at Lewisham, allowing normal services to resume.

A number of trains had to be diverted from their normal routes over the last month after Network Rail took emergency action to remove a damaged piece of railway. The ‘diamond crossing’ as it is known, allows trains to cross from one track to another where a number of routes meet at Lewisham.

The unique layout of the tracks at Lewisham meant a bespoke replacement had to be fabricated at a specialist steelworks in Scunthorpe before being installed on Friday night.

“We have really appreciated everyone’s patience this month and I understand what an impact the changed timetable has had on people. Keeping passengers safe is our top priority and that’s why we had to replace the damaged piece of railway. I’m pleased for everyone who relies on the railway that services have returned to normal.”

– Network Rail’s area director for Kent, Ellie Burrows

“We’re pleased that the damaged equipment at Lewisham has been repaired and that we’re now able to run a full service through the area. We’ve worked closely with our colleagues at Network Rail to ensure that the repair could be carried out as soon as possible. I’m grateful to all of our passengers for their patience over the past few weeks and pleased that we’ll be able to offer a better level of service on the route now that this work is complete.”

– Southeastern managing director, David Statham

More disruption for rail passengers in the south

Work to rebuild platforms at London Bridge Credit: ITV Meridian

Hundreds of thousands of rail passengers face major disruption later this month with a nine day closure of half the platforms at London Bridge to allow work to rebuild the station.

Work to rebuild platforms at London Bridge Credit: ITV Meridian

Exclusive pictures below show work at the station which is part of the £6.5 billion Thameslink project.

Work to rebuild platforms at London Bridge Credit: ITV Meridian

Rail managers say the closure will allow new platforms to open in September, a key part of the project. More closure will take pace at Christmas.

ITV Meridian spoke to Dave Ward from Network Rail.

  1. David Wood

Network Rail works with Samaritans to help people in distress

The number of people committing suicide on railways has increased in recent years.

To help combat the trend Network Rail are working with the Samaritans to coach staff to help people who are distressed along the rail routes. David Wood reports.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in our report you can contact the Samaritans via their website or their 24-hour helpline on 08457 90 90 90.

£1.2 billion spent connecting South East to London

Almost £1.2 billion was invested in the railway connection Kent and Sussex to London last year.

Passenger growth across the whole of London and the South East grew by 7.3%.

More than a billion passenger journeys are made on trains to London every year, equating to roughly 3 million passenger journeys each day.

Investments in Kent and Sussex included lengthening platforms, a new station building at Dartford and miles of tracks being renewed.

Dave Ward, Network Rail route managing director said, "More than 4500 trains run every day between London and Kent and Sussex and over the next five years we will be investing more than £2.3 billion in the rail network in those areas."

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More passenger and investments for Network Rail

Figures from Network Rail today reveal record numbers of passengers and investment in rail services across the region over the last year.

The amount spent improving services is almost £3 billion.

Passenger numbers are up around 7% with 3 million journeys every day in the region.

The not for profit company say the biggest investment has been on Brighton line and Kent services, Reading station and upgrading services in the Thames Valley.

Reading station to be opened by the Queen in July

The Queen will officially open the redeveloped Reading railway station next month Credit: Hackett/PA Wire

The Queen will officially open the redeveloped Reading railway station next month.

An £850 million Network Rail scheme has seen major improvement on the station, including new platforms and entrances.

The work on the station started in 2011 and most of the major works are now complete.

It will be the second time the Queen has carried out an opening ceremony at Reading Station.

Her previous visit was to mark the construction of the Brunel Arcade in the 1980s.

Check before you travel by rail around Southampton

Passengers using and going through Southampton Central train station this Easter bank holiday are being warned to check before they travel as work and improvements continue.

The station is currently going through extensive work to improve reliability of trains.

The £20 million improvements could affect services from South West Trains, Cross Country, Southern and First Great Western.

Replacement buses are in operation but passengers are reminded to add an extra 60 minutes onto their journey times.

Jim Morgan, infrastructure director for the Network Rail/South West Trains Alliance said:

We recognise that this is not ideal and we are sorry for the inevitable disruption that will be caused to passengers. We have sought to keep disruption to a minimum whilst we undertake this essential work.

There will be replacement bus services through Southampton over those weekends, and we will have customer service staff available at stations to help everyone get where they are going.

– Jim Morgan, Network Rail/South West Trains Alliance
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