Three Bridges to Brighton and Lewes

Brighton Main Line Improvement Project 2022 

Over a 9-day closure from Saturday 19 to Sunday 27 February, Network Rail engineers battled Storm Eunice and Storm Franklin to deliver a £15 million investment across 30 worksites.  The essential work will improve reliability and safety for Brighton Main Line passengers, and freight.   

What work was delivered?

  • Using 8,000 tonnes ballast and 1,500m new track a crucial rail junction which controls the movement of trains in and out of Brighton and the Ardingly freight branch was rebuilt, and track upgraded at Burgess Hill and in the Clayton tunnel.
  • At Hassock 4,500 tonnes of earth was removed and 24 concrete sections lifted into place to give people in Hassocks safe access under the railway. The new underpass replaces the old Woodside pedestrian crossing which closed in summer 2021 due to safety concerns.
  • Approximately 500m of reinforced protective walls and around 1,000 soil nails were used to stabilise nearly 1,000m of embankment at Haywards Heath, Balcombe, and Hassocks and one cutting at Lewes. The work will protect passengers from delays caused by landslips.
  • Nearly a kilometre of drainage was rebuilt in the Balcombe tunnel to stop flooding and water build up which has damaged the track and delayed trains in the tunnel since its construction in the 1840s.
  • In the Clayton tunnel 200m brickwork was repaired to keep the tunnel structure strong, prevent leaks and stop loose bricks falling onto the railway.
  • Tree planting and biodiversity improvements were delivered at Haywards Heath, Wivelsfield, Burgess Hill and Hassocks. This work will continue after the closures.
  • Installation of fibre optic cable between Three Bridges and Brighton. The fibre optic will be run from Brighton to London Victoria and London Bridge when the work is complete, enhancing connectivity along the route for passengers as well as other users.
  • Enhanced maintenance and inspections across closed track including wet bed removal and refurb of Spatham Lane and Hamsey level crossings.


More reliable journeys

  • Renewing track and equipment Copyhold Junction, stabilising earthworks, and improving drainage in the Balcombe tunnel will help maintain reliability on the Brighton Main Line
  • Improvements to line speed following the work will support service recovery when delays do occur.

Less disruption to passenger and neighbours

  • Using an extended line closure to do the work will minimise overall disruption to passengers and neighbours, deliver the benefits of the work more quickly and enable more cost-effective delivery.
  • The alternative to delivering this investment over extended closure in winter, when demand is naturally lower, was up to 20 weekend closures or multiple bank holiday closures over two years.

New pedestrian subway under the railway at Hassocks

  • Following the closure of Woodside level crossing at Hassocks due to misuse and safety concerns, the new underpass will provide safe access under the railway.

Enhanced biodiversity

  • New and improved habitats for species living on the railway will enhance biodiversity

Improved connectivity

  • Improved internet and mobile phone connectivity for passengers and people living by the railway through fibre optic installation.

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