The Brighton Main Line is among the most complex and congested routes in the country and the infrastructure on the line is also some of the oldest and most intensively used. This major project has been planned in an efficient way to deliver long-term reliability improvements for passengers who use the line. By doing this vital work over a nine-day closure Network Rail can deliver the benefits much more quickly and with less overall disruption to passengers. The alternative was up to 20 weekend closures or multiple bank holiday closures over two years.
Network Rail engineers will use the line closure to rebuild Copyhold Junction near Haywards Heath and replace track at Burgess Hill, Preston Park and in the Clayton tunnel.
A new underpass to provide a safe route under the railway will be built at Hassocks, sections of cutting and embankment will be stabilised at four locations, drainage is to be rebuilt in the Balcombe tunnel, and there will be enhanced maintenance and inspections across all closed track.
Alternative Service Plan
During the work, there will be no trains at the following stations and rail replacement buses will run instead:
Balcombe, Haywards Heath, Wivelsfield, Burgess Hill, Hassocks, Preston Park, Plumpton, Cooksbridge.
An amended service will run across the wider Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern network.
Buses will run between Three Bridges, Balcombe, Haywards Heath, Wivelsfield, Burgess Hill, Hassocks, Preston Park and Brighton; between Three Bridges, Haywards Heath, Cooksbridge and Lewes; between Haywards Heath and Plumpton; and between Plumpton and Lewes.
On weekdays, additional buses will run between Lewes, Cooksbridge and East Grinstead, between Hassocks and Three Bridges at peak times, between Preston Park, Haywards Heath and Three Bridges at peak times, and between Seaford and Uckfield at peak times.
Most main line services will start and terminate at Three Bridges where a large bus interchange with passenger facilities will be set up in the car park.
A Brighton to London Victoria train service will run via the Arun Valley calling at Hove, Shoreham-by-Sea, Worthing, Angmering, Littlehampton, Horsham, Three Bridges, Gatwick Airport, East Croydon and Clapham Junction.
Other train services will be amended to support the overall service plan.
The map below shows the lines which will be closed to trains.
Individual journeys can be seen now in journey planners such as www.nationalrail.co.uk.
Thameslink and Southern tickets will be accepted on each other’s services via any reasonable route for journeys affected by the closure.
Ticket acceptance is also in place for valid tickets on the following alternative routes:
Metrobus services in the Horsham – Crawley – Three Bridges – Gatwick Airport – Horley – Redhill areas and
Brighton & Hove Buses via any reasonable route within the Brighton & Hove city boundary, and between Brighton – Seaford – Eastbourne on services 12, 12A and 12X and between Brighton – Lewes – Uckfield on services 28 and 29
Passengers holding valid tickets between Brighton and & East Coastway stations and London Terminals, London Thameslink or London Zones 1-6 Travelcards may also use Southeastern train services from Hastings via Tunbridge Wells.
Given the ongoing effects of Covid-19 and the Omicron variant on staff availability, train operators are advising passengers to plan and to check again nearer the time before travelling.
Train operators are working with bus suppliers to provide as many buses as is practical, including some stand-by buses at key locations. The direct train service between Brighton and London Victoria via Littlehampton will be crucial to provide capacity for passengers travelling between the coast and London, although this will take longer than normal.
There are three additional weekends where associated work will also close the line:
Saturday 12 – Sunday 13 February 2022
Saturday 5 – Sunday 6 March 2022
Sunday 3 April 2022
Additionally, on Saturday 5 – Sunday 6 February separate engineering work will take place in the Gatwick area with most lines between Purley and Gatwick Airport closed meaning a very restricted service on the main line.