Passengers travelling on the Brighton Main Line over the next nine months are being urged to check if their journey will be affected by a major programme of improvement works designed to reduce delays and provide better journeys for passengers between the south coast and the capital.
A public awareness campaign has been launched by Network Rail, which will be carrying out the improvements, and train operator Govia Thameslink Railway (including Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express), to raise awareness of the dates when the line will be closed between Three Bridges and Brighton and between Three Bridges and Lewes.
Starting today (Monday, 13 August) ‘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. Other traditional advertising methods are also being used to make sure that the widest possible audience is reached.
From September this year through to May 2019, the railway will be closed for a total of 34 days to enable Network Rail engineers to carry out the first major overhaul of the southern end of the Brighton Main Line in more than thirty years. Most of these closures take place during weekends to minimise overall disruption to passengers, with the exception of an extended nine-day closure in February 2019, which includes the school half-term when passenger numbers are lower. This will 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.
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.”
Keith Jipps, Govia Thameslink Railway’s Infrastructure Director, said: “We want to minimise the disruption our customers will experience during the works so we’re informing passengers through our stations, trains, the media and social media to enable them to make the most informed decisions possible about their travel. Network Rail’s work is essential to give our passengers the reliable, punctual services that we all want on our route and my aim is make sure everyone benefits as quickly and painlessly as possible from that.”
About the Brighton Main Line Improvement Project
Network Rail’s improvement work will focus on four Victorian-era tunnels – Balcombe, Clayton, Patcham and Haywards Heath – and the railway which runs through them. A major programme to stem leaks into the tunnels and provide reliable drainage away from the tracks will take place, while sections of the track, third rail power system and signalling will be replaced or upgraded. Elsewhere, track will be renewed, sets of points, which enable trains to switch between tracks, will be replaced and fencing will be improved to deter trespassers.
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 will reduce delays on the line by around 15% 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 8 September, all weekends in October and 3, 10, 24-25 November in 2018.
In 2019, there will be closures on 6 January and 9-10 February before the planned nine-day closure from 16-24 February and then weekend closures on 2, 23 and 30 March, 6 April and a final one day closure on 5 May.
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.