Latest Rail News


‘Essential’ Brighton Main Line upgrade to kick off in October 2018

Major improvement works to the Brighton Main Line will be delivered towards the end of 2018 and early 2019, it was announced today.

The upgrade to the southern end of the line is part of a £300m programme to tackle delays for commuters in the south east.

It is hoped that the improvements will create a more reliable railway for the 300,000 customers who regularly travel along the route.

Work to the line has been a long time coming, after the DfT stated in March 2017 that the Brighton Main Line was a “strategic priority”, adding that improvements to the line were necessary to improve services.

A joint announcement by Network Rail and GTR, who operate the line, said that no trains will run from Saturday 20 – Sunday 28 October 2018 and Saturday 16 February - Sunday 24 February between Three Bridges and Brighton, to let engineers get to work on the upgrade.

The work will hone in on four Victorian-era tunnels (Balcombe Clayton, Patcham and Haywards Heath) and the rails that run through them to address drainage problems, as well as replace rail power and signalling systems.

“This is a long-overdue upgrade to one of the most unreliable parts of the south east’s rail network,” said NR’s managing director for the south east route, John Halsall. “Southern and Thameslink passengers deserve better and this work will help us deliver that for them.

“We’re giving people as much notice as possible to enable them to start thinking ahead, particularly as we know many people will already be making plans for the rest of the year.

“We’ll continue to work closely with GTR, Transport Focus and passenger groups to make sure passengers get the best possible service during these two planned closures and we keep disruption to a minimum.”

Keith Jipps, GTR infrastructure director, admitted that the route was the most congested and intensively used in the country, and that NR’s work was essential to ensuring future services ran on-time.

“We’ll be ensuring there are multiple options for passengers to make their journeys, including alternative transport to other rail stations and with other train operators,” he concluded.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here.


Pete   11/01/2018 at 08:29

What on earth do they mean by “alternative transport to other rail stations and with other train operators”. What other train operators are there operating between Brighton and London? I sincerely hope GTR extend a bit of goodwill and allow free travel on presumably bus replacements throughout the works. I’m sure pigs will fly before that though.

Mark Sudbury   11/01/2018 at 10:03

Southern to Hastings then Southeastern to London Bridge. One viable, if not a bit slower

James Miller   11/01/2018 at 10:47

By that date, I suspect that Thameslink could be running to Littlehampton, with 12-car trains. Could they reverse at Littlehampton and go on to Brighton?

Andrew Gwilt   11/01/2018 at 19:36

As always. Network Rail are spending £millions on improving our railways. And it’s likely that more rail upgrades will still continue.

Boris   12/01/2018 at 10:10

Nice bit of sarcasm there Andrew. Of course it's "likely" that rail upgrades will continue. Unless you're suggesting further cuts in the face of still increasing passenger numbers?

Andrew Gwilt   12/01/2018 at 10:43

Told you were everywhere! On all the websites!

Bob   12/01/2018 at 12:31

Can't you give it a rest for one day Andrew?

Henry Law   12/01/2018 at 15:18

Nowhere near what is needed. Before anything is done, they need to put in an east curve at Ford so that diverted trains do not waste twenty minutes running in and out of Littlehampton. The main line needs to be four tracked from the north end of Balcombe tunnel at least to Wivelsfield Junction. It is work that was planned in the 1930s.

Andrew Gwilt   13/01/2018 at 00:46

Ignore me then Bob. Ffs

Andrew JG   13/01/2018 at 07:25

At least it will happen for a week in October this year and in February next year and shouldn’t cause too many problems once it’s been completed.

IC2000   13/01/2018 at 17:14

I do wish NR would drop the hype. They are constantly using the terms "rail improvement works" and "upgrade works" when the works are more often or not domestic and essential renewals (such as drainage works in tunnels etc). The travelling passengers rarely experience "improvements" in there journeys in such circumstances.

Nonsuchmike   02/03/2018 at 17:14

Four track all the way to Brighton would certainly be an improvement, just as four track all the way through to Peterborough on the ECML would cure so many long distance as well as local problems. The problem is Croydon et environs. Now we hear there are to be two more platforms: will that mean wo more through lines? Or just two more bay platforms? Two through lines will certainly help in the short term. A longer term solution to pinch points will be by burrowing underground for through trains, or some other form of differentiation by grade.

Add your comment


Rail industry Focus

View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >