Southern and Gatwick Express delays have fallen for passengers travelling into London Victoria
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The significant ‘punctuality improvements’ follow the switch-on of a brand-new signalling system in South London.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “The new signalling – the railway’s traffic light system – which controls the safe movement of trains on the network, came into use on the lines between Balham, Clapham Junction and London Victoria (platforms 9-19) last Christmas.
"It replaced the old and unreliable equipment which had been signalling trains through the area since the early 1980s.”
This work is part of Network Rail’s wider London Victoria South London resignalling programme, in which engineers are ‘completing a major package of upgrades’ to ‘modernise outdated track’ and signalling on the South London lines into London Victoria.
"This includes upgrades at a number of major junctions in the area, including at Clapham Junction where track improvements have increased line speeds and improved train performance,” the Network Rail spokesperson said.
“Delays have reduced from a peak of 4,000 per month in the year before the new signalling became operational last Christmas to as low as 1,800 per month this year.
“Upgrades to the track and equipment – particularly at Clapham Junction – have increased line speeds and helped improve train punctuality.
“A more reliable railway in South London means Network Rail’s maintenance teams can focus on other areas of the railway in need of maintenance and repairs.”
Lucy McAuliffe, Network Rail’s Sussex route director, said new investment in the railway is ‘vital to delivering safe and reliable services’ for passengers.
She added: “Our investment to upgrade the signalling and track in South London is really bearing fruit with delays being reduced by a whopping 55 per cent on lines into London Victoria – that's as much as 36 hours a month that passengers weren’t stuck on trains for longer than they needed to be.
“We’re looking forward to achieving similar improvements for passengers from signalling upgrades in the Crystal Place, Tulse Hill and Peckham area which are under way and set to finish in February 2024, and signalling upgrades between Nunhead, Battersea and Herne Hill, which will come to an end in 2025.
“We know that the changes to services to support the delivery of this work are disruptive and we’re sorry to any passengers whose journeys are disrupted during this time. Please rest assured the new signalling and track upgrades will deliver tangible benefits for passengers travelling today and long into the future.”
Keith Jipps, Govia Thameslink Railway’s infrastructure director, said the company is ‘delighted to see this dramatic boost in punctuality’.
“We thank passengers for their patience during the ongoing work to further modernise the signalling systems,” he said.
"Network Rail are making a massive investment in infrastructure renewals for rail travellers in South London, and we’re looking forward to more great results. We believe it will encourage even more people to choose sustainable transport in and around the capital.”