Engineers line up space for third rail track

Train emerging from Estbourne Line at Keymer Junction on to London Brighton Line between Burgess Hill and Wivelsfield stations pic Phil Dennett

Train emerging from Estbourne Line at Keymer Junction on to London Brighton Line between Burgess Hill and Wivelsfield stations pic Phil Dennett

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Plans are being made to allow for a third set of rails to be installed on the London-Brighton track through Mid Sussex.

Space is being allocated for a third set of railway track to increase capacity on one of the busiest lines in the country.

Allowance for the new set of rails is being made in a study for West Sussex County Council, the results of which are due soon.

The report relates to the building of a new bridge across the London to Brighton line at Keymer Junction.

And studies will comment on the environmental and geographical impact of ensuring there is enough room for the third set of rails on the stretch between Wivelsfield Station and Burgess Hill.

One effect of the new track would be to allow trains to emerge from the Eastbourne line on to the main London-Brighton line more easily.

But its main benefit would be to improve services on the main line.

At present a new bridge with enough space for the new line to pass under it is forecast to be ready late next year, about a mile north of Burgess Hill station.

A preliminary report has already been put before county councillors and a final report is due soon.

The bridge and new track issue was raised at a recent meeting of the South Mid Sussex County Local Committee , which is due to meet again on June 11.

Increasing capacity on the London-Brighton line has been a challenge for many years, and campaigners have pointed out the constraints of having one set of rails in either direction between Three Bridges and Brighton.

Although the third line is not planned for the immediate future, the fact that it will be taken into consideration on new projects such as the Keymer Junction bridge, known locally as St Wilfrid’s Bridge, is a positive indication for train travellers.

Network Rail confirmed this week that provision is being made for a third set of rails, although it does not appear there will be an early start should any project get off the ground, not least because of the huge cost of designing the new stretch and obtaining any extra land that might be needed.

A Network Rail spokesman told the Mid Sussex Times this week: “There are currently no plans for additional tracks on the Brighton Main Line, which the new bridge will span. However the design of the bridge at Keymer Junction is such that it would not preclude construction of a third track in future.”

Keymer Junction is about half way between Wivelsfield and Burgess Hill stations.