The Chart Leacon depot in Ashford, which closed in 2014 and has lain empty ever since, is being demolished to make room for a new train maintenance facility.
Balfour Beatty is taking the old depot down for owner Network Rail in order to make room for five new railway sidings, where trains can be stored and undergo light maintenance, as well as offices and other facilities for staff, creating around 50 jobs locally.
Network Rail Southern Region’s investment director Paul Harwood said: “Although it may seem strange to be talking about improving the capacity of the railway during Covid, we know the passenger numbers will grow again and this is a great opportunity for us to build for the future.
“Before Covid, we were running more trains than ever before and one of the aspects we are really short of in Kent and South East London is places to keep them and look after them when they’re not running. By purchasing the whole site at Chart Leacon, as well as building five new sidings, we’re not only helping run a more reliable railway for today, but also safeguarding the site for future railway use.”
The depot was formerly owned by Bombardier Transportation, but its operations there ceased in 2014.
The new sidings will be used to stable Southeastern trains. These are currently stabled at the nearby Hitachi depot, but there will no longer be space there for them as GTR Thameslink trains will be taking their place later this year.
Network Rail is only refurbishing the storage sidings and will mothball the rest of the site. Ashford Borough Council has plans to use the land on Leacon Road for housing in the future.