The first tracks have been laid on the new Bermondsey dive under project at London Bridge.
The first tracks through the Bermondsey dive under were laid last week using contractor Balfour Beatty’s new track construction (NTC) machine.
The new railway junction will uncork a major bottleneck on the approach to one of London’s busiest stations, allowing more frequent and more reliable train services across large parts of the south east.
Network Rail said that similar to a motorway flyover or underpass, the Bermondsey dive under is a new railway junction that will untangle the tracks on the eastern approach to London Bridge station.
It said that currently, as trains from Sussex and Kent approach London Bridge, the railway lines intersect at a series of junctions, causing congestion and creating delays.
When complete in 2018, the new junction will allow Southeastern trains travelling from Kent to “dive under” the Sussex lines used by Southern and Thameslink trains, relieving the bottleneck of trains.
The work at Bermondsey and the rebuilding of London Bridge station are part of the government-sponsored Thameslink Programme, which has combined infrastructure upgrades, new technology and a fleet of new trains.
Network Rail Thameslink programme director Simon Blanchflower said: “The Thameslink programme is a key part of our railway upgrade plan which will provide huge benefits for passengers on some of the busiest parts of our network.
“Our work at London Bridge station understandably grabs a lot of the attention, but just as important is the work we’re doing at Bermondsey and on the approaches to the station. Ultimately, that’s what allows us to give passengers what they really want – better, more frequent and more reliable journeys.”
Network Rail said that its engineers would work round-the-clock over the Christmas weekend to bring the first track into passenger use from the early hours of 27 December.
As a result of the work, Network Rail said that there would be some changes to Southeastern services over the Christmas period, including on Christmas Eve.