NETWORK RAIL has announced two nine-day closures of the Brighton main line south of Three Bridges to carry out major works to four tunnels.
From 20 to 28 October 2018 and 16 to 24 February 2019 trains will not run between Three Bridges and Brighton or Three Bridges and Lewes, with NR saying this stretch of railway is responsible for more delays to Southern and Thameslink passengers than any other. The work forms part of a £300 million programme of investment across the Thameslink route to improve infrastructure reliability.
The work will focus on Balcombe, Clayton, Patcham and Haywards Heath tunnels, with a major programme to stem leaks into the tunnels and provide reliable drainage away from the tracks. The track, third rail and signalling will also be replaced or upgraded, while work elsewhere will see tracks renewed, points replaced and fencing improved to deter trespassers.
Network Rail says the closures have been carefully planned for school half-terms, when fewer passengers travel. NR’s South East Route managing director John Halsall said the only alternative to weekday closures would have been to close this part of the Brighton main line for 84 weekends.
The announcement was made on the same day as the release of the National Audit Office report into the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise. The £300 million infrastructure investment was recommended by Chris Gibb’s report into the franchise, and is targeting hotspots both north and south of London as the Thameslink services ramps up to 24 trains per hour at peak times through the central London core over the next two years.