The Brighton Mainline, running from London to Brighton through our neighbourhood, is one of the busiest in the country carrying over 300,000 passengers each day. Some time ago, I led a delegation of MPs to see the Prime Minister which led to a £300m programme of works to upgrade the infrastructure (for example, fixing points and signals). This work is now happening, and should ensure there are fewer delays and cancellations once completed.
But the line is nonetheless running at 99% capacity, which means any small problem creates wider disruption and rush-hour trains are often over-crowded. We need to create more capacity.
The bottleneck for the whole network is around East Croydon station – Network Rail describe it “the most challenging bottleneck on Britain’s Railway Network.” Services converge from across Surrey, Sussex and parts of Hampshire through East Croydon, before diverging to Victoria, London Bridge and Blackfriars. The Windmill Junction, near Selhurst, is also a bottleneck. You will have noticed southbound trains often pause for a few minutes near Selhurst while they wait for this junction to clear.
I have therefore been campaigning for the Government to provide around £2 billion to fix this bottleneck. This project would entail expanding East Croydon from 6 to 8 platforms and widening other areas of track in the vicinity. It would also involve grade separating Windmill junction. Not only would this prevent a lot of delays, but it would allow for more services to run, increasing capacity by 30%.
This project is being taken forward by Network Rail, and there are some more basic details in a video on this page:
The funding still needs to be finally signed off, but I will be pressing hard to make sure that this happens. This would be one be one of the biggest rail infrastructure upgrade projects in the country. I will keep you updated.