Passengers travelling on the Brighton Main Line are set for major disruption and are being urged to plan their journeys carefully as a nine-month programme of improvement works starts.
Most of the closures planned will take place at weekends, but in February the line between Three Bridges and Brighton and between Three Bridges and Lewes will be closed for nine days straight causing massive disruption for commuters.
In a statement released by Network Rail a spokesman said the nine day closure was planned to coincide with the school half-term ‘when passenger numbers are lower’ to ‘enable engineers to complete the work without the need for significant further weekend closures and means passengers will benefit sooner from a more reliable railway’.
Other significant closures are in October when the line will be closed every weekend, and most weekends in November.
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Network Rail has today launched a public awareness campaign to raise awareness of the dates when the line will be closed so that commuters and passengers can plan ahead.
Drop-by sessions will be held at 34 stations across East and West Sussex advising passengers about their journey options during the line closures.
A digital awareness campaign featuring a familiar Brighton seagull will see information appearing in passengers’ social media newsfeeds, while a dedicated website – www.BrightonMainLine.co.uk – will enable passengers to find out how the closures affect their journeys.
The work will take place from September until May 2019 and is the first major overhaul of the southern end of the Brighton Main Line in more than 30 years.
The work will focus on four Victorian-era tunnels – Balcombe, Clayton, Patcham and Haywards Heath – and the railway which runs through them.
Works include stopping leaks into the tunnels and providing reliable drainage away from the tracks. Sections of the track, third rail power system and signalling will be replaced or upgraded.
Elsewhere, track will be renewed, sets of points will be replaced and fencing will be improved to deter trespassers.
Mark Killick, Network Rail’s chief operating officer for the South East route, said: “Passengers on the Brighton Main Line deserve a better, more reliable railway and our work over the next nine months will deliver that.
“We know that closing the railway to carry out improvement work has a big impact on passengers’ lives, which is why we’ve worked hard to plan the work in a way that minimises overall disruption as much as possible.
“We’re working closely with Govia Thameslink Railway, Transport Focus and passenger groups to make sure the travelling public get the best possible service during our improvement programme.
“We’ll be out and about at stations across Sussex in the weeks and months ahead to talk directly to passengers and make sure everyone knows how to plan ahead.”
The £67m investment is part of a £300m government-funded programme to boost infrastructure resilience and reliability on the busiest routes in the south east.
It is hoped the project will reduce delays on the line by around 15 per cent when complete, meaning better and more reliable journeys for passengers.
Dates of planned closures
Weekend travellers are being advised to plan ahead around several weekend closures which will take place on September 8, all weekends in October and November 3, 10, 24-25 in 2018.
In 2019, there will be closures on January 6 and February 9-10 before the planned nine-day closure from February 16-24 and then weekend closures on March 2, 23 and 30, April 6 and a final one day closure on May 5.
During these closure periods, no trains will run between Three Bridges and Brighton or between Three Bridges and Lewes.
Rail replacement buses will be in operation, as well as diverted trains between London and Brighton via Littlehampton. Passengers should allow considerably more time for their journeys during these periods.
For more information you can call the Network Rail national helpline on 03457 11 41 41 or visit National Rail Enquiries.