Ten days of engineering works for Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge nearly at journey’s end

Ten days of engineering works for Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge nearly at journey's end

Commuters are hoping engineering works that have brought ten days of severe disruption and misery for travellers, will be finished by the end of the Christmas holidays.

Passengers travelling from Tunbridge Wells to London Bridge, a journey that takes usually less than 50 minutes, have faced a two and half hour trip at times with up to five changes involved.

This is because franchise holder Southeastern has suspended all services into London Bridge, as well as Charing Cross, Cannon Street and Waterloo East, from Saturday [December 23] until Monday [January 1].

The festive disruption comes as part of the Thameslink Programme in which Network Rail is looking to speed up north-south travel through the capital by upgrading London Bridge.

John Reynolds, chairman of pressure group Tonbridge Line Commuters, said: “We can understand why London Bridge has to be rebuilt and they need to close the station.

“But we hope all will be working from day one next week. In the past we have had ongoing disruption and for this to continue would be unacceptable.”

From today [Wednesday] and for the duration of the working week trains will travel into London Victoria instead of the other London station. This will take one hour from Tunbridge Wells and 50 minutes from Tonbridge.

Passengers from Tonbridge will also see some services terminate at London Waterloo.

Saturday and Sunday proved a particularly tricky test for anyone braving the railways trying to get away for the holidays with both Southeastern and Southern scheduling engineering works.

They faced extreme journeys into the capital with Network Rail’s own website advertising one journey to London Bridge that involved five changes and took two and a half hours.

This involved a bus from Tonbridge to Sevenoaks, a walk from Penge East to Penge West followed by two more train connections.

Mr Reynolds continued: “We do object to closing Tonbridge to Sevenoaks, and also Tonbridge to Redhill at the same time on the busy shopping day of Saturday.

“Surely they can coordinate their engineering works.”

A normal service is set to commence for many people’s first day back at work on Tuesday [January 2].

A spokesman from Southeastern said: “Network Rail and the various train operating companies have worked very closely in managing the impact of the Thameslink Programme engineering works during the Christmas holiday period when fewer people travel on the railways.”

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