Demolition has begun at the site of one of the £6.5bn Thameslink Programme’s most crucial improvements.
The massive Bermondsey Dive Under is being created to separate flows of trains approaching London Bridge from South East London, Croydon and Kent.
In order to create the dive under – the opposite of a motorway flyover – several stretches of old viaduct and bridges are being demolished.
Close to Millwall’s New Den stadium, the site was once a tangle of railways and roads where the former Bricklayers Arms branch left the main line.
Network Rail project manager Greg Thornett said: “Our Victorian ancestors did a fantastic job and we are still using much of their work to carry more than 200,000 passengers every day – including a stretch of the oldest railway in the whole of London. However, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to untangle the current complex track layout, which is a result of historic railway operators dating back over 150 years running services adjacent to one another into London on their own infrastructure.
“Our contractors are removing the steel bridges first before using a mixture of techniques to deconstruct the brick viaducts. Passengers will soon see big changes from the windows of their trains.”
The government-sponsored £6.5bn Thameslink Programme is rebuilding much of the railway from New Cross Gate through London Bridge and on to Blackfriars and St Pancras. The Bermondsey Dive Under will see two Victorian viaducts partially demolished and rebuilt to allow Charing Cross trains from South East London and Kent to dive down to almost street level, under a new route carrying Thameslink services from Croydon, and back up again.
The same team, Network Rail and contractor Skanska, is strengthening 20 bridges between New Cross and Waterloo East to carry the proposed Thameslink track alignments necessary to provide 24 train paths per hour though London’s central core from Blackfriars to St.Pancras.
Some of the 20 bridges strengthened are of an old design where the rails are carried on timber baulks instead of the more common ballast track support. The timber baulks need replacing every five to 10 years, so the newer structures will require less maintenance.
Thornett added: “Although the old viaducts will be replaced by modern structures, they are designed to remain in keeping with the older architecture. It’s exciting to see this transformation and it will be a real sense of achievement to see trains running on it.”
Principal contractor at the Bermondsey Dive Under is Skanska, with Armac as the specialist demolition sub-contractor.
The government-sponsored £6.5bn Thameslink Programme will improve north-south travel through London.
When complete in 2018 it will give passengers:
• New trains running every two to three minutes through central London in peak hours
• Improved connections and an expanded network including Cambridge and Peterborough
• New track and signalling systems offering more reliable journeys
• A rebuilt London Bridge station