Network Rail update on forthcoming line closures
Three Bridges to Brighton and Lewes – February 2022
Update about some significant works to renew the Brighton Main Line, which is part of an £11m upgrade to deliver a major renewal of Copyhold Junction near Haywards Heath, replace track at Burgess Hill and build a new underpass, providing safe access under the railway at Hassocks.
The work will take place from Saturday 19 to Sunday 27 February 2022, with supporting weekend work before and after the main closure.
While we have reviewed this work and access approach considering the difficult year for passengers and the country at large, we feel that getting vital work done quickly and efficiently has never been more important.
The alternative to delivering this investment over a nine-day closure in February was up to 20 weekend closures or multiple bank holiday closures over two years. We know that prolonged weekend and evening disruption is unacceptable to our neighbours, passengers and stakeholders, especially the leisure and tourism industry on the south coast.
Some people have questioned why this work was not completed during the pandemic when passenger numbers have been lower.
During the Covid lockdowns restricted working was in place and our passengers were often key workers. We had to keep running a railway service for those people.
By keeping trains running alongside other transport, we also gave people more choice to improve social distancing and reduce the risk of Covid spread during essential journeys.
Essential rail-freight also made use of our network throughout the pandemic.
Additionally, to get the right materials, equipment, and people in place for a project of this scale takes months of planning. Supplies are not always available ‘off-the-shelf’ in the quantities we need, and we had to consider lead times and interdependencies – many of which were beyond our control and constantly changing throughout the pandemic.
By doing the work as planned over a nine-day closure, we can not only get essential work done more quickly with less overall disruption to passengers, but also deliver more improvement work than traditional weekend access approaches allow.
The work being delivered at Copyhold Junction and Burgess Hill includes:
• Over 7,000 tonnes of ballast – the stones beneath the track that give support
• Replacing over 1,000 metres of track
• Renewing eight sets of points – these are the mechanical systems that move the switches and crossings that guide trains from one track to another
Following the closure of Woodside level crossing at Hassocks due to misuse and safety concerns, a new underpass will be built to provide safe access under the railway. This will mean fewer delays due to trespass on the Brighton mainline.
The work means lines will be closed between Three Bridges and Brighton/Lewes from Saturday 19 to Sunday 27 February 2022, and on the weekends of 15/16 January, 12/13 February, 5/6 March and 3 April.
Passengers are also advised of planned maintenance closures between Three Bridges and Brighton/Lewes on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 October, and on Saturday 13 November will also impact Brighton Main Line services. Diversions and bus replacements will be in place.
We’re working closely with our colleagues at Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to agree our alternative travel arrangements. As such, when lines are closed, alternative travel arrangements will be put place for passengers, similar to the February 2019 Three Bridges to Brighton closure, including replacement buses and ticket acceptance on open routes. Our planning for the closure reflects the balance between keeping passengers moving and progressing these essential works.
Unfortunately, the February school half-terms in West Sussex and Brighton & Hove/ East Sussex are on different dates in 2022. This means the closure will take place over the West Sussex half-term, not the Brighton & Hove/East Sussex half term. We have elected to hold the nine-day closure over the West Sussex half-term to ensure that there are adequate numbers of buses available for a replacement bus service. Many of the same buses will be needed to move school children in term time.
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.
It was not possible to deliver a major project of this scale during the pandemic without disrupting essential journeys – and even if we tried to deliver parts of this project, further line closures would have been necessary in the months ahead to complete essential works.
Please be assured we continually review planned works to minimise passenger disruption and keep the railway running as much as possible. The major works that will take place in February 2022 are part of our long-term plans to maintain a safe, good quality service for rail passengers.
Further details and updates about the Brighton Main Line renewals work including travel arrangements can be found here .
Getting in touch with the stakeholder team
If you have any concerns or queries, please get in touch:
SouthernRegionStakeholders@networkrail.co.uk and one of the team will get back to you.