Weekend passengers are being reminded to check before they travel in November as work on a £67million upgrade to the Brighton Mainline progresses on schedule.
Network Rail engineers are carrying out the first overhaul of the railway between Three Bridges and Brighton in more than 30 years by improving track, signalling and drainage to stop flooding inside Victorian tunnels on the line, which has become one of the least reliable in the south east.
The line will be closed between Three Bridges and Brighton, and Three Bridges and Lewes, on Saturday 3 November, Saturday 10 November and the weekend of the 24 November, while engineers work in and around the tunnels at Balcombe and Clayton.
Work has taken place at 25 separate sites so far and has included the renewal of 2.7 miles of conductor rail, 532 yards of track and 15 signal heads and the replacement of thousands of tonnes of ballast.
November's work will see the renewal of more track inside the Clayton Tunnel, new signals installed between Patcham and Preston Park and the replacement of electrical circuits between Three Bridges and Balcombe.
This work, together with a nine-day closure in the school half-term week between 16 and 24 February 2019, will improve reliability by more than 10% for passengers travelling between London and the south coast.
Paul Harwood, Network Rail’s Director of Route Investment for the South East, said: “We are working hard to make the least reliable part of our network better for passengers by upgrading the southern end of the Brighton Main Line.
“We know there’s never a good time to close the railway, which is why we’re working closely with our train operator partners to provide the best advice so that passengers are inconvenienced as little as possible during our works in November and beyond.”
Keith Jipps, Govia Thameslink Railway’s Infrastructure Director, said: “Network Rail’s works to upgrade the Brighton Main Line really are vital for us to improve our service, but we appreciate many of our passengers who use the railway at the weekends are being inconvenienced in the short-term.
“I’d remind travellers in Brighton and surrounding towns that we’re making every effort to keep them open for business with an extensive bus replacement service in place, as well as indirect train routes to and from London and Brighton available via the longer route through Littlehampton.”
The £67m Brighton Main Line Improvement Project is part of a wider £300m programme to improve the reliability of some of the busiest and most congested lines in the south east, including on the recently expanded Thameslink network.