Posted 1st April 2009 | No Comments

Advance work starts as Faversham prepares for 140mph trains

A Class 395 on test at Rainham in Kent in readiness for the new services later this year.

EARLY work as part of the proposed multi-million pound East Kent Resignalling Project is due to start at Faversham next month.

The advance work, involving cable diversions and earth works, are all part of a plan which ultimately could see the end of existing mechanical signalling equipment dating back to the 1950s. The equipment, which includes mechanically operated signalboxes, would be replaced with a modern computerised system, controlled from a signalling centre at Gillingham.

Built more than 10 years ago, the Gillingham building has never been used as a signalling centre. Currently it is used as a storage area for old railway drawings and plans.

Network Rail told Railnews that overall plans had not yet been finalised but the major work at Faversham was due to start in September this year.

Faversham is significant as it sits at a junction that splits to create two routes which will be used by the new Class 395 Hitachi-built trains.

In one direction the line from London via Rochester continues on the north Kent route to Ramsgate and Margate, whilst the other line leads to Dover Priory via Canterbury East – an area where there are still clusters of semaphore signals.

Southeastern has said that a full service of the 140mph trains is due to be launched in December, with the trains using HS1 into St Pancras International. But a preview service could start this summer, with trains running between Ashford International, Ebbsfleet and London.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We have plans to undertake improvement works at Faversham station and these will form part of the East Kent Resignalling Project. The project is aimed at improving reliability and increasing the flexibility of services.

“The overall plans have not yet been finalised. However, if the project goes ahead, it is likely to include changes to signalling and tracks, the extension of platforms 1 to 4, reburbishment of the subway and the installation of lifts to the platforms at Faversham.”