Brighton Main Line reopens to passengers after Network Rail battles through storms to deliver £15m improvement works

Published: 07 Mar 2022

Network Rail has issued the following press release about completion of a major phase of Brighton Main Line improvements:

Over a nine-day line closure, Network Rail engineers battled Storm Eunice and Storm Franklin to deliver a £15 million investment across 30 worksites to improve journeys for Brighton Main Line passengers.

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Network Rail's route director for Sussex, Katie Frost, said: “Dealing with the worst storms we’ve seen in years was a massive challenge but our teams battled through and worked more than 35,000 hours to deliver £15 million of investment at more than 30 work sites, and handed back the railway on time for trains to run again on Monday morning.

“We are really grateful to people who had to manage longer journeys and changes to services, and also our railway neighbours who have experienced nine days of major engineering work next to their homes.

“This work will deliver vital safety and reliability benefits for passengers on what is among the UK’s busiest and most congested routes. And, by using an extended closure to do work, we have avoided the alternative of 20 weekends of disruption on the Brighton Main Line.”

To keep passengers moving when lines were closed, Network Rail worked with Southern and Thameslink to put in place an enhanced bus replacement operation.

Chris Fowler, Customer Services Director for Southern, said: “Network Rail have completed an enormous amount of work that will improve service reliability for our customers across the region, well into the future. With the lines reopened we have already been able to resume direct services between Brighton and London Victoria.

“We’ve worked hard to keep people moving during the work, with special diverted trains and up to 50 buses an hour running from a huge temporary bus hub. Roughly 50,000 journeys were completed by bus, and 100 extra customer services staff have helped to make those journeys as smooth as possible. We’re very grateful to all our customers for your patience, whether you travelled with us or made other arrangements.

“People returning to our services can travel with confidence, knowing that we continue to use powerful virucides giving long-lasting protection at stations and on trains.”

  • Using 8,000 tonnes of ballast and 1,500m of new track, engineers rebuilt a crucial rail junction, which controls the movement of trains in and out of Brighton and the Ardingly freight branch, and upgraded track at Burgess Hill and Clayton tunnel.
  • At Hassocks, 4,500 tonnes of earth was removed from the railway embankment and 24 concrete sections lifted into place to create an underpass that will give people 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 more than 1,000 soil nails were used to stabilise around 1km of embankment at Haywards Heath, Balcombe and Hassocks and one cutting at Lewes. The work will protect passengers from delays caused by landslips.
  • 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 of brickwork was repaired to prevent leaks and stop loose bricks falling onto the railway.
  • As part of a railway biodiversity programme that will continue after the 9 days biodiversity improvements, including bird and bat box installation, removal of scrub and non-native species and reseeding areas with colourful native wildflower mix have got underway at Haywards Heath, Wivelsfield, Burgess Hill and Hassocks.

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In addition, a programme to install high capacity fibre-optic cable on the Brighton Main Line made great progress. When complete, passengers (and people living by the railway) can look forward to faster and uninterrupted internet and mobile connectivity from Brighton to London.

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