Works to upgrade a 33-mile stretch of East Kent’s railway network are on track to be completed by spring 2016.
Once completed, the £145m East Kent Resignalling phase 2 project will have replaced old signalling equipment and increased capacity and capability along the region’s rail network.
It will also have delivered operational savings within the project area and improved network integration with other modes of transport, a highlight being the installation of a new subway at Rochester.
Spencer Rail is carrying out all of the civil engineering work on the project, including a new station at Rochester, platform extensions and building work.
Adrian Kilburn, Project Director at Spencer Rail, said the project is an exciting one to be part of and one that has presented a number of technical challenges.
“We are delighted to be a part of this major project, especially so quickly on the back of the works for Network Rail over Christmas at Gravesend,” he said.
“We are building a new station at Rochester as well as installing a reinforced concrete subway under the tracks to increase the accessibility for all passengers.
“The railway at Rochester runs on an embankment and work will take place at Easter, during a 96-hour blockade, to facilitate a new subway to be installed using specialist sliding techniques which have never been used in the UK before.
The subway was built off line and adjacent to the embankment so that we can easily move the subway into position. The track will then be reinstated.
“We will also be installing a coffer dam which will enable us to carry out further excavation and install a new lift shaft and stairs that will access the new platforms.”
Designed to be commissioned in three phases with many intermediate stages, the East Kent Resignalling project centres on the new East Kent Signalling Centre (EKSC).
The aim of the project is to concentrate control of a significant portion of Network Rail’s Kent route into the EKSC, located at Gillingham.
Constructed in the style of Upminster, Derby and Didcot, this is the shape of Signalling Control Centres for the future. Equipped initially with only two control workstations, the centre is big enough to accommodate 12 desks as its area of operation expands.
Phase 1, which was commissioned over the Christmas period in 2011, covered the area from east of Sittingbourne to Minster Junction and Buckland Junction just short of Dover Priory.
Fringe boxes were at Sittingbourne, Minster and Folkestone East. Extensive track remodelling took place at Ramsgate (both the Minster and Dumpton Park ends of the station) and Faversham with plain lining being done at Whitstable, Herne Bay, Birchington and Canterbury East.
Old signal boxes were abolished at Faversham, Margate, Ramsgate, Canterbury East and Shepherdswell.
The phase 2 project comprises the total renewal of life-expired signalling on a section of the Chatham Main Line between the end of the Phase 1 project near Sittingbourne, and the Victoria Signalling Centre control area near Longfield, alongside the re-control and partial renewal or modification of existing signalling on connecting routes.
Key components of the East Kent Resignalling phase 2 project include:
- The creation of a new ‘Access for all’, three platform station at Rochester, including pedestrian subway and the decommissioning of the old station
- Platform extensions and a new turn-back facility at Rainham in the form of a new 12-car bay platform
- New platforms and extensions to existing platforms at Strood to accommodate 12-car trains
- The total renewal of life-expired signalling between Longfield and Sittingbourne, transferring the control of the signalling to the East Kent Signalling Centre (EKSC) – Gillingham
- The re-control of Strood from Ashford, Sheerness Branch and Medway Valley line to EKSC.
- The renewal of life-expired signalling at Maidstone East
Spencer Rail is working with Atkins and Balfour Beatty, Medway Council, Southeastern Railway and Network Rail to deliver the project, which is due to be completed by April, 2016.
Over the next two years, Spencer Rail will also be extending the platforms at Rainham and Strood, increasing their capacity from six to 12-car trains, building a new station at Rochester and decommissioning eight new signalling boxes throughout the East Kent region once the new signalling system has been installed.