Yesterday (Monday) saw the first trains to run on a new section of railway through Rochester, marking the completion of the improvement work on the railway at the station.
This short film was shot from the cab of one of the first trains, as it made its historic journey
The work, part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, is one of the final sections of the East Kent Resignalling project that also created the new station and the new platform at Rainham.
Network Rail engineers spent the weekend connecting up a new track through Rochester’s platform 3, creating a new stretch of track right through to the old station to the east. The line, called a “loop”, is long enough to hold a full-length freight train, not to mention the many passenger trains that pass through the Medway Towns each day, and it will improve the reliability and flexibility of the railway in the area.
Network Rail’s director of signalling projects in the South East, Huw Edwards, said: “This is a big moment for us, and a proud one. The railway through the Medway Towns has been a pinch-point since it was built and this extra track will help us run a more reliable and flexible service.
“Up until now the only place we could terminate or overtake a 12-car passenger train or a longer freight train, was Gillingham, meaning that congestion could build up and delay passengers. Now thanks to our resignalling project we have this new loop at Rochester, and of course the new platform at Rainham.
“It’s unsung pieces of engineering work like this that help keep passengers on the move as our railway just keeps on getting busier.”
Richard Dean, Train Services Director, said: “Rail services through the Medway Towns have undergone a great deal of investment in the past few years with station improvements, resignalling work and a new station at Rochester, which opened last year.
“Undoubtedly, this part of Kent is very important to us and the new Rochester loop will increase the capacity there, which will help free up a very busy area that serves tens of thousands of passengers each day.”
The new stretch of track runs through platform 3, across the site of the former signal box, and all the way along to the old station, where it joins back up with the main line. While some trains currently use platform 3, the timetable change in December this year will see more services calling at the platform.
East Kent Re-signalling 2 project saw the commissioning of 30 miles of new signalling, from Longfield to Sittingbourne and out onto the Isle of Sheppey. It was a sequel to the first project, the successful East Kent Re-signalling 1, which replaced signalling from Ramsgate through to Faversham and to Dover via Canterbury East, in 2011/12.
As a result of the work over Easter this year, the signal boxes at Rochester, Gillingham, Rainham and Sittingbourne were closed and staff now control more than 30 miles of railway and 250 signals from the East Kent Signalling Centre in Gillingham.
Rochester Loop Trains & CCTV.(Network Rail Images)