Mike Gibson, Public Affairs Manager at Southeastern has provided an update on on-going engineering works on the Hastings to London Line
Gibson said: “Network Rail is carrying out the works and they are the best placed to respond. However, in brief, the trains that leave London and Hastings after 2100h on Mondays and Tuesdays have been replaced by buses between Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Wadhurst. This is to allow Network Rail engineers more time on track to maintain and repair the railway. The scheme is now going to continue at least until December 2016.
Since Network Rail introduced the scheme it has not had to apply for any emergency access – which often means unexpected changes to train times and cancellations for our passengers – and Network Rail has seen an improvement in the quality as well as the amount of work it has been able to achieve.
As well as routine maintenance work, Network Rail has installed new LED signals, upgraded points, upgraded some supplementary “banner” signals, improved conductor-rail heating, replaced conductor-rail equipment such as insulators, worked on improving the track bed, improved drainage by clearing culverts and digging out wet track bed and also hand grinding the rails on sets of points to make sure they are in good condition.
In addition, it has been able to grind almost 10 miles of track on the route, which extends the life of the rail, prevents defects and improves the ride for passengers. Network Rail has also been able to send the stone blower over almost 4 miles of track, which makes the track quality better and again, provides passengers with a better-quality ride.
From a staffing perspective, it is less pressured, which means much-enhanced safety and improved quality of work.
In other areas where we have used this system of extended access, we (Southeastern) have seen improvements in performance. For example:
- On the Ashford to Minster line, where this system has been in place for more than a year, the number of trains delayed by more than five minutes dropped by 66.90%.
- On the line between Faversham and Ramsgate, we saw the number of trains later than five minutes drop by 25.5%.
From these statistics, we are hopeful that we can improve performance on the Hastings Line. It is too early to say what the effect has been on the line, but we have seen performance rise each period from December to March.
None of this is any consolation to the passengers so affected, but the majority of commuters using the line are not adversely impacted. There is never an ideal time for Network Rail to carry out engineering work but both we and Network rail are confident that this will plan keep the railway open as long as possible, while also improving journeys for everybody.”