Network Rail remains on track to complete landslip repairs to reopen the East Grinstead railway line for key workers and passengers for whom travel is absolutely essential, on Monday 30 March, although the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak could still cause a delay.

With Thameslink and Southern also running a further-reduced timetable from this date – new timetable – passengers are encouraged to check at national rail enquiries before they travel.

The railway has been closed between Lingfield and East Grinstead since 12 February when a railway embankment near Cookspond Viaduct, in Dormansland, began to slide. Since then, no fewer than five further sites have suffered landslips on the route and Network Rail has been working with BAM Nuttall to repair the line.

The repairs are almost complete and testing will continue over the weekend.

Network Rail Southern Region’s managing director, John Halsall, said: “We are on course to return this railway to use on Monday, at an absolutely crucial time, with key workers relying on us to get to their jobs.

“However, I can’t be as confident as I would like to be simply because we are seeing increasing numbers of our colleagues having to leave work to self-isolate and we don’t know what those numbers will be and who will be affected over the next two days.

“So my message to passengers is firstly, please only travel if you absolutely have to, and then secondly please check before you travel on Monday. It’s been an incredible effort by everyone who has worked on the project to get so far so fast and I am so proud of their work, but we have to be realistic and admit the challenge we face.

“Thank you to everyone for your patience.”

Steve White, Chief Operating Officer at GTR, which runs Thameslink and Southern services, said: “Our important message to everyone during this national emergency remains not to travel unless absolutely essential but for those key workers and people who have no choice, the completion of this work will be good news reducing your travel time.

“We would like to thank customers for their patience during this essential work. Network Rail really has pulled out all the stops to repair the landslips in this area and I applaud them for their efforts on behalf of the community and the railway.”