Consultation announced on ‘transformational’ plan to remove Britain’s worst railway bottleneck and provide a step-change in reliability

People across the south east of England will be able to have their say on proposals for a major railway upgrade to improve punctuality, speed up journey times and enable more trains to run on one of the country’s busiest main lines.

To find out more about the proposals, and to respond, click here.

Passengers reminded to check ahead for weekend closures on the Brighton Main Line in October

Weekend rail passengers are reminded to check before travelling on the southern part of the Brighton Main Line in October as work to improve one of the least reliable parts of the South East’s rail network steps up in intensity.

Network Rail engineers are carrying out the first major overhaul of the railway between Three Bridges and Brighton in more than thirty years.

The work includes upgrades to track, signalling and tunnel drainage which will lead to fewer delays owing to equipment faults or problems caused by flooding inside Victorian tunnels.

The £67m Brighton Main Line Improvement Project is part of a wider £300m programme to improve the reliability of some of the busiest and most congested lines in the South East, including the recently expanded Thameslink network.

The line will be closed between Three Bridges and Brighton and Three Bridges and Lewes on all four weekends in October while teams of engineers work inside the tunnels at Balcombe and Clayton.

Paul Harwood, Network Rail’s director of South East route investment, said: “We want to make the least reliable part of our network better for passengers and our work to upgrade the southern end of the Brighton Main Line is now well underway.   

“We know there’s never a good time to close the railway, which is why we’re working closely with our train operator partners to keep disruption to passengers to an absolute minimum. I’d advise passengers to keep an eye out for the information that’s available to them in stations and online and plan ahead if travelling at weekends in October.”

Keith Jipps, Govia Thameslink Railway’s Infrastructure Director, said: “Network Rail’s works to upgrade the Brighton Main Line really are vital for us to continue to improve our service and we appreciate many of our passengers who use the railway at the weekends will be inconvenienced.

“I’d remind travellers that Brighton and surrounding towns remain open for business and there will be an extensive bus replacement service and trains running via the longer route through Littlehampton.”

Govia Thameslink Railway appoints Steve White as Chief Operating Officer

GTR has appointed Steve White as Chief Operating Officer, from London Underground.

Steve, has worked at Silverlink Trains, Eurostar and Siemens PLC in executive roles and joined London Underground as Operations Director.

At LU he was responsible for operations and infrastructure during a period of major change on the ‘subsurface’ railway.

He has most recently has been implementing the new signalling system on the Metropolitan, Circle, Hammersmith and City and District Lines, and is a chartered engineer.

GTR CEO Patrick Verwer said: “I am delighted to welcome Steve to GTR and look forward to working with him. In Steve we are appointing a senior transport professional with the skills and management experience to lead GTR through the next stage of our modernisation programme, to increase capacity on the most congested part of the UK rail network.”

Steve succeeds Nick Brown, who in March announced his retirement at the end of September after almost four decades in the rail industry.

Patrick added: “I would like to thank Nick very much for the hard work, dedication and leadership that he has brought to GTR during a very challenging period. He has made a major contribution to the business, from strengthening the team to collaborative working with a wide range of stakeholders. I wish him all the very best for the future.”


Planned closures of the Brighton Mainline in October 2018 and February 2019

Network Rail had agreed with Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express services, to close the lines between Three Bridges and Brighton and Three Bridges and Lewes for two nine-day periods coinciding with the October 2018 and February 2019 school half-terms, in addition to a number of weekend closures.

The improvement work – part of a £300m government-funded improvement programme to boost reliability for passengers on the Brighton Main Line and other key routes in the South East – will now be carried out in just one nine-day closure from 16-24 February 2019, subject to the rail industry’s usual assurance reviews. The supporting 15 weekend closures between September 2018 and May 2019 will go ahead unchanged. Some elements of the work as originally planned will now be deferred until the next five-year funding period, starting in April 2019.

Network Rail has taken the decision to revise the main body of work in consultation with the Department for Transport and Govia Thameslink Railway. Passengers now have more time to plan ahead before the weekday closures in February next year, while allowing the rail industry to focus its immediate efforts on embedding the interim timetable from this Sunday, 15 July and delivering a more dependable service.

During the line closures, no trains will run between Three Bridges and Brighton or between Three Bridges and Lewes. Rail replacement buses will be in operation, as well as diverted train service between London and Brighton via Littlehampton. Passengers should allow considerably more time for their journeys during these periods. While we understand these revisions to the plan will incur disruption to stakeholders and customers, we believe it will enable sufficient time to work with our partners, GTR, to deliver a robust alternative travel plan and ticketing arrangements. The planned dates are outlined below:

The programme of works will involve:

  • Stemming leaks into the tunnels and improving drainage
  • Upgrading or replacing the third rail power system and signalling
  • Replacing track and sets of points, which enable trains to switch between tracks
  • Replacing fencing and improving security to deter trespassers.

It will improve reliability on the Brighton Mainline significantly reducing delays for passengers travelling between London and the south coast.

We look forward to continued engagement with you to ensure that your business, employees and customers can plan ahead. We remain committed to making you fully aware of the impact on journeys and alternative transport arrangements as they are confirmed to us.