South London Tunnel closed this week as Network Rail renews track

Network Rail engineers are working this week to carry out the renewal of the railway in Penge Tunnel between Brixton and Beckenham Junction in South London

Network rail will be working around the clock to replace around two and a half miles of track inside the 1.25-mile tunnel in South London and will see a closure until Sunday the 31st of July.

Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s Kent route director, said: “We’d like to thank passengers and residents living alongside the railway for their patience while we carry out this major track replacement at Penge tunnel.

“This will be a challenging task as the tunnel is over a mile long, but the benefits will mean less maintenance will be needed in future as the track and components will be newer, meaning fewer faults and smoother, more reliable journeys for passengers.

“We recognise this work can be disruptive to passengers and those living alongside the railway and that’s why we’ve tried to fit in other maintenance tasks within the nine-day railway closure so that it causes less disruption and is more cost-effective.

“By taking a full nine days, we will significantly reduce overall disruption to passengers, as the alternative to this approach would be five weekends of closure in addition to two separate Sundays.”

Penge Tunnel // Credit: Network Rail

Scott Brightwell, operations and safety director for Southeastern said: “We don’t want people to get caught out, so our advice to our passengers during this work is to check before you travel, and to plan ahead by using the Southeastern website or National Rail Enquiries. There’s never a good time for work like this to be carried out but the work is crucial, and it will mean better journeys in the future.”

The huge project for Penge Tunnel, which was famously disliked by Queen Victoria, will see the removal of the old track and the trackbed dug up before the replacement of the rail and ballast which are the stones which form the trackbed and which will be completed using a special track laying machine. The replacement of the track will see the ongoing safe and smooth running of the railway which will allow more reliable services to operate with fewer faults.

In order to keep disruption to a minimum for passengers and residents, the line will close for nine consecutive days so the work will take half the time it would if it were carried out over multiple weekends. During the closure, further essential maintenance work will be completed on the line making the overall project more efficient and cost-effective.

The replacement of the track will see an investment of £5 million and comes as part of the £1.25 billion South East Upgrade Programme which aims to bring passengers in Kent and South East London better journeys with fewer delays by making improvements to the rail infrastructure.

The work will see Southeastern services affected from Saturday the 23rd of July until Sunday the 31st of July with a rail replacement bus service in place as follows:

Saturday to Sunday:

  • Denmark Hill and Bromley South, calling at all stations between Herne Hill and Bromley South, except Brixton.

Monday to Friday:

  • Denmark Hill and Beckenham Junction, calling at all stations between Herne Hill and Beckenham Junction, except Brixton.

Tuesday evening from 10pm, Wednesday all-day, Thursday morning until 8.30am:

  • Beckenham Junction to Orpington, via Shortlands, Bromley South, Bickley, Petts Wood and Orpington.

Bus times are available via the online journey planner:

For further information about the project, please visit Network Rail’s dedicated Penge Tunnel page:

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