Network Rail is warning that it will be closing a section of railway in south-east London for 9 days in late July for upgrade works.
The 1970s signalling system, which controls the movement of trains on the Bromley North, Sidcup branches and main line through Hither Green, is being completely replaced, but to do that, they need to stop trains running through this section of the line.
The closure will run from Saturday, 25 July to Sunday, 2 August 2020, so they are announcing it now to give people who can, time to plan time off work or alternative travel arrangements.
This work is so important for Southeastern passengers who travel through this area, not just at Hither Green but on into Lewisham as well. The signalling system is very old and in urgent need of upgrade.
In normal times, Network Rail says that it would step up maintenance of the equipment to keep it running reliably, but with social distancing in place on all their worksites, finding and fixing faults is taking significantly longer. If something breaks, then it can take far longer to repair than normal, causing extended delays on for passengers.
Network Rail had wanted to bring the new £81 million signalling system into use over four days at Easter, but because technicians can’t work closely together for long periods, it is going to take double the length of time it would normally take to finish the job.
A nine-day blockade of the line was deemed to be necessary, and late July is typically the quietest time of the summer months to do this, as lots of people would usually be on holiday around then.
Although more buses and alternative trains will be offered, people are being advised to plan alternative arrangements to work from home, or take a holiday during the line closure.
During the works, 58 new signals will be installed, along with 9 new signal gantries. Control of the new signals will also be migrated to their Three Bridges route control centre.
In addition, they will be upgrading the signalling to provide turnback opportunities at Hither Green, Grove Park and Lee, allowing trains to turnback when there are delays or during engineering works.
These works follow on from track upgrades that took place last August.