The Brighton Mainline is one of the busiest train lines in the country, carrying over 300,000 passengers each day. Historically underfunded infrastructure means that it runs close to capacity as one of the most congested routes in the country. Between East Croydon station and Norwood Junction station, the trackbed, points, and signals are in long need of upgrades and repairs. These problems make the railway network in this area highly sensitive to delays, and Network Rail has described it as “the most challenging bottleneck on Britain’s railway network”. Without investment to fix the bottleneck, services from Croydon will continue to be a commuter’s nightmare.
When Theresa May was Prime Minister, over £300m was secured to fund upgrades to the Brighton Mainline. Network Rail also announced major plans in the Croydon Area Remodelling Scheme to improve the tracks and stations. These plans include expanding East Croydon station to 8 platforms and grade separating Windmill Junction, with additional tracks. By increasing capacity in these ways, the bottleneck could be fixed which would allow more services to run with fewer delays. It is concerning that Network Rail’s Croydon Area Remodelling Scheme is under threat due to uncertainty about future passenger behaviour following the pandemic. Passenger numbers have doubled in the last 20 years, and with people now returning to work, it remains clear that these upgrades are needed as soon as possible.
It is essential that the Croydon Area Remodelling Scheme continues in order to support commuters. Funding was already committed to fixing these problems, and I was pleased that these plans had cross-party political support both in Croydon and in Westminster. Without this investment, commuters will continue to suffer delays, cancelled services, and overcrowded stations. We cannot allow this project to be delayed; commuters deserve to see these improvements given much-needed investment on this part of the mainline. This would be one of the biggest rail infrastructure upgrade projects in the country, and I will continue to press hard to make sure the plans go ahead. I will continue to keep you updated.