Big spend on railways – but travel will be tough before it gets better
By Kent and Sussex Courier | Monday, January 14, 2013, 04:00
LONG-SUFFERING train users in Tunbridge Wells have finally received some good news, with the announcement of a £1.6 billion railway investment.
Network Rail, the organisation that runs and maintains Britain's rail infrastructure, will invest in a power upgrade to cope with the longer 12-carriage trains that will be running through Kent.
There will also be increased spending on improving the reliability of the routes from Tunbridge Wells to Hastings and between Tonbridge and Ashford.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: "The work on train tracks, signalling and drainage will make sure that these sections of railway are in tiptop condition to reduce the opportunity of failures and delays."
Platforms are being lengthened across the county to allow up to 12-carriage trains and more passengers to use the service. These longer trains require more electricity to run and the power upgrade will ensure that, by 2019, up to 654,300 people a day can catch a train into London from Kent.
More than £6 billion is being spent on the Thameslink upgrade programme, which will also increase commuter capacity into London, but Network Rail has warned that this will cause problems before it is completed.
Dave Ward, Network Rail's route managing director for the south east, said: "We have to balance the need to build more infrastructure, run trains on time and reduce costs, and in many areas across Kent difficult choices will need to be made.
"The period while the work is taking place will provide many tests for passengers. This is an example of the trade-offs that need to be made."