Behind the scenes: Tracks

Tube track replacement engineers

To ensure safe and reliable journeys, our track needs to be maintained and renewed regularly. Find out about track maintenance and why it’s important to your journey.

Maintaining the track

The track is made up of ballast which supports the sleepers, which in turn support the rails. Together, the sleepers and the rail form the track. 🚉🛤

The Tube network is 150 years old and is used by millions of people. Over time track experiences wear and tear from constant use. We work around the clock to keep our 1,000 km of track in tip-top shape while at the same time minimising disruption to customers. 👍

We carry out a rolling programme of track renewals and replacements across our network to keep London’s transport moving and as safe as possible.

Track can last around 50 years if we carry out regular cleaning and maintenance.

Flooding and drainage

Water can interfere with the operation of signalling and that can cause signal failures. We lay pipes alongside the track and below ground to direct surface water away from the track and back into the water table. 🌧🌈

This helps to reduce signal failures and extends the life of the track. Historically, wet conditions meant that track needed to be replaced every 20 years or so. By keeping on top of the maintenance needed to improve track drainage, this has been extended to 45-60 years. 👷

This is good news for our customers as it means fewer major replacements are needed, and we can run a faster, more reliable service that is more cost efficient.

Minimising disruption

We do everything we can to avoid closing the railway. We carry out as much work as possible during the four hours a night when the Tube is closed to the public. 🦉 However, there are some essential jobs that are so complex or large that we have to implement a longer closure, sometimes called a blockade or a block closure. 🚧

We use the latest engineering techniques, for example, special ‘shrunken’ bespoke machinery to allow us to work in tunnels deep underground. These innovations help as we try to keep disruption to a minimum. We will always ensure there are alternative ways for you to make your journeys .

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